Monday, July 15, 2024

Despite Bigger Paychecks, Struggling Households in Louisiana Continue to Increase

by BPT Staff
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Though wages for the lowest paid jobs have risen across the country at the fastest rate in four decades, the number of households struggling to get by in Louisiana grew by 4,960 from 2021 to 2022. As a result, a total of 1.7 million households or 50% were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a new Update from United Way of Northwest Louisiana and its research partner United For ALICE.

That calculation includes the 339,003 Louisiana households in poverty as well as another 567,512 defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), earning above the Federal Poverty Level but less than what’s needed to survive in the current economy. ALICE workers include child care providers, home health aides and cashiers — those working low-wage jobs, with little or no savings and one emergency from poverty.

ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in Louisiana shows that while wages were increasing, so too were costs. For a family of four with an infant and a preschooler, the basic costs to live and work in Louisiana, excluding tax credits, rose from $82,284 in 2021 to $84,060 a year later. Compounding the issue in 2022 was the loss of up to $15,000 in federal child tax credits and stimulus payments that this family had access to in 2021.

“There is no doubt, bigger paychecks helped, but inflation and the loss of pandemic supports converged to keep ALICE trapped,” said United Way of Northwest Louisiana President & CEO LaToria. W Thomas. “This latest data is a reminder that while we have made some progress, our work is far from over.”

The findings in this one-year period are consistent with a more than decade-long trend: Since the end of the Great Recession, despite some ups and downs, the number of ALICE households in Louisiana has been steadily growing. From 2010 to 2022, the total number of households rose by 7%, households in poverty increased by 15% — and the number of ALICE households grew by 20%.

“The data is showing persistent and widespread financial hardship — a red flag that the current system isn’t working for ALICE,” said Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D., United For ALICE National Director. “Current policy has not been enough to break down the barriers that trap ALICE households in financial hardship, from lack of access to housing and child care that’s affordable, to inadequate community supports such as broadband internet.” 

Additional insights include:

  • From 2010 to 2022, people age 65 and over made up the fastest-growing age group in Louisiana — and the group with the largest increase (40%) in the number of households struggling to make ends meet.
  • Racial disparities persisted in the rates of financial hardship; 67% of Black and 50% of Hispanic households in Louisiana were either in poverty or ALICE in 2022, compared to 42% of white households.
  • Food assistance continued to elude many vulnerable families in Louisiana. Partly due to the SNAP income eligibility level in the state (130% of the Federal Poverty Level), only 46% of all Louisiana households in poverty and 23% of all ALICE households participated in SNAP in 2022. 

To read the Update and access online, interactive dashboards that provide data on financial hardship at the state, county and local levels, visit

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