Fairfax County Residents Are Employed Yet Struggle with the Cost of Living

Every two years, a grassroots research initiative takes place to help our region identify our ALICE -- an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed -- populations. ALICE represents the growing number of households in our communities that are employed but do not earn enough to afford basic necessities.

United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) announced Nov. 15-19, 2021, as ALICE Awareness Week. Here’s why we all need to be aware of our ALICE neighbors and what they need to bridge their financial gap:

Based on 2018 ALICE reports for Fairfax County, 23 percent of households are ALICE -- five percent of households are at the poverty threshold and earn $26,500 or less (for a home of 4 persons). This means that a large percentage of Fairfax County ALICE households do not qualify for federal programs that could help alleviate the burden of some of their monthly expenses, such as food and healthcare. https://unitedwaynca.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/ALICE-In-Fairfax-County.pdf

To further illustrate the financial struggle of an ALICE household, let’s simulate a family of four and assume two adults are jointly earning the state average income of $72,577 and supporting two children. According to the ALICE Household Survival Budget, a family of two adults and two children needs a total of $123,984 minimum each year to cover the cost of food, childcare, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other incidentals. 

By partnering with United Way NCA, nonprofits, academic institutions, corporations, and other state organizations are using the ALICE data to stimulate meaningful discussion and inform strategies for positive change. Your United Way NCA is part of that change. We are using this data to inform our goals, strategies and programs that help create more equitable access to health, education, and economic opportunity. We hope to gain your support, partnerships and advocacy as we practice equity and as we look ahead. We believe that when none are ignored, all will thrive.

To learn more about ALICE, please visit www.unitedwaynca.org/ALICE.


Rosie Allen-Herring is president and CEO of the United Way of the National Capital Area

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