Despite Michigan’s overall improvement in employment and gains in median income, 43 percent of state households fail to make ends meet, up from 41 percent in 2017, according to a new report by the Lansing-based Michigan Association of United Ways.
The report found that 1.7 million Michigan households could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology. The United Way calls these ALICE households — those that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, an Employed.
The cost of the average Michigan family budget also increased by 27 percent from 2010 to 2017, despite a low rate of inflation nationwide — 12 percent during the same timeframe.
“Through the release of our third ALICE Report, Michigan’s United Ways are banding together to bring to light the issues hardworking Michigan residents face every day,” says Mike Larson, CEO of the Michigan Association of United Ways. “As we continue to uncover the depth and breadth of Michigan’s ALICE population, we hope to encourage legislators and business leaders alike to chart a path forward for our state’s most vulnerable residents.”
Although unemployment rates are falling, the report found that low-wage jobs dominate the employment landscape, with 61 percent of all jobs in Michigan paying less than $20 per hour. At the same time, an increase in contract jobs and on-demand jobs is leading to less financial stability. For the many households that earned slightly above the ALICE threshold in the past, increases in the cost of living and flat wages have pushed them below the threshold and into financial hardship.
The Michigan Association of United Ways joins with approximately 450 United Ways from 15 states across the country to better understand the struggles of ALICE households. Various organizations across the country also are using this data to better understand the needs of their employees, customers and communities. In Michigan, the Consumers Energy Foundation granted $25,000 to fund the study.