Local households struggle to make ends meet

CLINTON — A new report has revealed that nearly two out of every five Clinton County households are struggling to afford basic amenities and services.

In Clinton County, 38 percent of households live below the ALICE threshold. This is an update to the initial report released in 2016 that found 31 percent of Iowa households are unable to meet basic needs.

ALICE, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty.

“ALICE exists in our communities," United Way of Clinton County Board President Anita Dalton said in a news release. "These individuals work hard to pay their bills and support their families, but are alarmingly close to financial emergency. Many are living above the federal poverty level, and work two or more jobs per family to make ends meet.”

According to the release, the United Way ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial needs in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census. The report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses, that show how many Iowa workers are struggling financially and why.

The report showed that 13 percent of Clinton County households are living below the federal poverty level, while an additional 25 percent are unable to afford life’s basic necessities of housing, transportation, food, health care and child care despite having income above the Federal Poverty Level designation.

These are households earning more than the official U.S. poverty level, but less than the very basic cost of living in the community, according to the news release.

According to United Way officials, the ALICE report seriously shapes the way their annual campaigns function.

"United Way provides this report to give our community a tool for understanding who struggles, and why, and inform our partner, donor and policymaker conversations and decisions," United Way of Clinton County Executive Director Cheryl McCulloh said. "Since the initial report in 2016, our United Way has used this data to inform our work."