Study Reveals 38% of Hoosier Working Families Struggle to Afford the Basics

INDIANAPOLIS – In 2016, 979,538 Hoosier households were unable to afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care and transportation despite working hard according to the 2018 Indiana ALICE® Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) released today by Indiana United Ways. ALICE-population individuals and families are defined as those who are working, but whose income ranges between 127-185% of the Federal Poverty Level. Combined, ALICE-population (25%) and poverty (14%) households, account for 39 percent of all Indiana households, a 10 percent increase between 2010 and 2016.


The 2018 Indiana ALICE Report Update reveals statewide (and on a county basis):


  • More than 1 in 3 Hoosier households cannot afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation, despite working hard.
  • There are over 636,871 ALICE households in Indiana. Together, with those in poverty, close to a million Hoosier households (979,538) are unable to make ends meet.
  • At least 21% of households are living below the ALICE threshold in every county in Indiana—in addition to those living below the Federal poverty line.
  • Basic household expenses increased 23% for families and 21% for individuals on average across the state between 2010-2016, while the national rate of inflation for the same period was 9%.
  • 65% of jobs in Indiana pay less than $20 per hour, and two-thirds of those pay under $15 per hour.


In the six-county region served by United Way of Central Indiana (Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan), the ALICE Report Update found:


  • 38% of the total number of households in the six-county region (622,823) are ALICE and/or in poverty. In Marion County, nearly one half (47%) of households are ALICE and/or in poverty.
  • Since 2010, the number of households in ALICE and/or in poverty has increased by 3% in the six-county region, and has increased by 5% in Marion County.
  • The six-county region accounts for nearly a quarter (24%) of all poverty and ALICE households across the state of Indiana.
  • Single or cohabiting households account for more than half (54%) of the households that are in ALICE and/or in poverty across the six-county region.


Working families are often forced to make choices that compromise their health and safety to make ends meet, putting both the families and the wider community at risk of long-term societal and economic repercussions. Tough choices for struggling working families may be deciding between a much-needed vehicle, medication for the month, or even putting food on the table.


ALICE-population individuals and families are working jobs that are vital to the success of our communities, such as home healthcare providers, cashiers, teaching assistants, and bus drivers and many other important occupations, and yet they continue to struggle with the basics. The number of struggling working families in IN has continued to rise: one out of four working Hoosiers is a part of the state’s ALICE population. “As a United Way network, we will continue to work to mobilize our communities to find solutions that help our hardworking neighbors,” says Maureen Noe, President/CEO of Indiana United Ways.


Indiana’s United Ways are using the 2018 ALICE Report update to help shape programs and policies in local communities throughout the state. By bringing together business, government, nonprofit and faith- based leaders, including volunteers, many communities are working toward creative solutions to better support the needs of these hard-working families.


Sponsored by OneMain Financial and United Way of Central Indiana, the 2018 Indiana ALICE Report, takes a county-level look at the reality of employed, yet struggling Hoosier residents who have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty. ALICE was originally introduced in Indiana in 2014 and the update provides a deeper look at how households have struggled over time since before the recession in 2007 through 2016.


For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit


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Jessica Di Santo,

Mickey Terlep,