ALICE in Florida

The release of this ALICE Report for Florida comes during an unprecedented crisis — the COVID-19 pandemic. While our world changed significantly in early 2020 with the impact of this global, dual health and economic crisis, ALICE remains central to the story in every U.S. county and state. The pandemic has exposed precisely the issues of financial fragility and widespread hardship that the ALICE data reveals.

While in 2018 the state’s unemployment rate dropped, GDP grew, and wages rose slightly, eight years after the end of the Great Recession, 46% of Florida’s 7,792,605 households were struggling to make ends meet before the global pandemic. Today the effect COVID-19 will have financially on ALICE is going to be severe.


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Key Findings from the ALICE Report

  • A growing number of households live on the edge of the ALICE threshold. In Florida, 14% of households were on the cusp of the ALICE threshold in 2018, with earnings with in $5,000 – $10,000. 
  • Smaller demographic groups had a disproportionately higher percentage of families below the ALICE Threshold, including Black and Hispanic households, young households (headed by someone under age 25), and single-parent households.
  • When COVID-19 hit, nearly 2.6 million Florida households were considered ALICE and one emergency away from financial ruin — a 10-year record high — setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis. 
  • Over the last decade, Florida’s low-income families systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the high cost of essentials outpaced wages, driving the number of ALICE households to rise 66% by 2018.
  • The ALICE Essentials Index, a new measurement debuting in this report, reveals the gross mismatch between wages and the cost of basics. This Index chronicles how the cost of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and a smartphone plan rose at nearly twice the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (3.4% annually over the past decade across the country versus 1.8%). Meanwhile, ALICE’s wages remained stagnant.
  • While more than half (56%) of working-age adults were in the labor force, the majority are paid hourly, as opposed to receiving a salary. Hourly-paid workers are less likely to receive benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off, family leave or retirement benefits. Just 24 percent of workers were full-time salaried employees. 
  • Nearly half of working adults report having a “side hustle” outside of their primary job, according to a 2019 Bankrate survey.
  • ALICE jobs are often “maintainer” jobs vs. “innovator” jobs and are represented by some of the largest industries in the state, including 1.8 million Trade, Transportation and Utilities jobs. The majority of maintainer jobs pay less than $20 per hour or $40,000 annually, if full-time.

Resources to Learn More 

Heart of Florida United Way works with partners in many ways to empower ALICE households and keep people from falling into poverty. For information about what community resources are available, connect with United Way’s 211 Information and Referral Crisisline by dialing 211, text your zip code to 898-211 or click here to chat with a 211 Specialist. 

If you would be interested in having a United Way representative present to your group about ALICE and the findings of this report or to join the ALICE Coalition, click here.

Wonder what it’s like to live like ALICE? Click here to take an interactive walk-in ALICE’s shoes

Click here to view the ALICE Project website. You will find statewide ALICE data for Florida and can dive deeper for information on a county-wide level.

About the ALICE Report

The ALICE Report examines the minimum cost of living in Central Florida, or a survival budget, based on housing, childcare, food, transportation, health care, and necessary technology to identify who is surviving at this level. The ALICE Report provides a more accurate picture of financial insecurity at the state, county, and municipal level and is a more accurate alternative to the outdated Federal Poverty Level, which grossly underestimates the number of struggling families in our community.

The basic survival budget for ALICE involves the cost of housing, food, transportation and other absolute necessities. However, it does not allow for putting money into a savings account or having a cushion for unexpected expenses. It essentially covers the cost to survive paycheck-to-paycheck.

The ALICE Research

To produce the ALICE Report for Florida, a team of researchers collaborated with a Research Advisory Committee, composed of 26 representatives from across Florida, who advised and contributed to the report. Sources include the American Community Survey, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, the Internal Revenue Service, the Tax Foundation and the Florida Department of 

ALICE in Central Florida

Throughout Central Florida, nearly 350,000 households are struggling to make ends meet. According to the 2020 ALICE Report in 2018, in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, 46% of families are living on the edge of the fiscal cliff.

Number of Households:
Median Household Income:
$58,588 (state average: $55,462)
ALICE Households:
35% (state average: 33%)
Households in Poverty: 
14% (state average: 13%)

Number of Households:
Median Household Income:
$50,546 (state average: $55,462)
ALICE Households: 
52% (state average: 33%)
Households in Poverty: 
12% (state average: 13%)

Number of Households:
Median Household Income:
$67,470 (state average: $55,462)
ALICE Households: 
24% (state average: 33%)
Households in Poverty: 
9% (state average: 13%)

Contact Us
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Heart of Florida United Way, 1940 Cannery Way, Orlando, FL 32804

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