Georgia ALICE - Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed - Report Releases

Staff Report

Wednesday, February 7th, 2024

Out of the 3.95 million households in Georgia, 34% are hardworking families who are living under the threshold of financial survival based on the state’s 2021 cost of living data, according to the ALICE Report released today by the United Ways of Georgia State Association. The Report was released in partnership with United for ALICE, a U.S. research organization driving innovation, research and action to improve life across the country for people in financial hardship.

ALICE in Georgia: A Study of Financial Hardship places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking families who are employed, but are living paycheck to paycheck and are one unexpected expense away from financial crisis. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in the state to date, using the latest data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census. The Report unveils new measures, based on 2021 income levels and expenses that quantify how many families in Georgia are working, but struggling financially, and why. 

In 2021, over 1.3 million Georgia households fell into what United Way calls the ALICE population. These are hardworking families earning more than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but are still struggling to afford basic living expenses. Combining those households with the 530,000 families living in poverty reflects that 47% of Georgia households live below the ALICE threshold. The ALICE Household Survival Budget for a Georgia family of four in 2021 was $61,164, well above the Federal Poverty Line at $26,500. 

United Ways of Georgia (UWGA), an association composed of the 31 United Way organizations operating in Georgia, have collectively invested to become the 29th state organization to participate in United for ALICE.  Georgia Credit Union Association is the presenting sponsor of the United for ALICE Georgia Report.

“We all know ALICE,” said Michael Smith, President and CEO of Greater Valdosta United Way and Chair of United Ways of Georgia State Association. “ALICE is the recent college graduate unable to afford to live on their own, the young family strapped by child care costs, the mid-career professional who is underemployed. These folks are vital to our state’s future economic well-being, and they face barriers beyond their control – preventing their ability to become financially stable.”

The Report is a project of United for ALICE, a grassroots movement of United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in more than half the United States, all using the same methodology to document financial need. ALICE Reports provide county-by-county data and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial freedom.

“This Report provides the objective data that explains why so many residents are struggling to survive and the challenges they face in attempting to make ends meet,” said the Report’s lead researcher, United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “Until now, the true picture of need in local communities and states has been understated and obscured by misleading averages and outdated poverty statistics.”

The ALICE Report reveals:

  • Nearly 3.4 million Georgia households live in predominantly urban counties, with 47% of these households falling below the ALICE Threshold (which includes ALICE households and those living in poverty).  586,313 Georgia households live in predominantly rural counties, with 52% of these households falling under the ALICE Threshold.
  • Of Georgia’s 20 most common occupations, 65% paid less than $20 per hour in 2021.  The top five occupations with the highest percentage of workers below the ALICE Threshold in Georgia were cooks, cashiers, stockers and order fillers, waiters, and fast food workers.
  • Rates of financial hardship vary across the state ranging from 27% in Forsyth County households living below the ALICE threshold to 76% in Randolph and Wheeler counties.
  • Supply chain issues and inflation pushed prices up across the board by 8% annually in the U.S. from 2021 to 2022, compared to 3% annually in the prior 10 years further straining ALICE households.
  • Only 23% of people age 16 and over had the security of a full time job with salary
  • There is a shortage of 200,000 affordable rental units at or below 30% of the area median income in Georgia.

This economic snapshot of ALICE households provides a common language, deeper understanding, and tools for our state to better assist these households in moving forward economically.  The report will give United Ways across Georgia the needed data to help better innovate and collaborate for solutions with government, businesses, and community nonprofits across our state. The updated 2022 data will be released mid-year and continued updates will be provided annually.

For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities across the state, visit United Ways of Georgia website at or contact your local United Way.