ALICE stands for Asset Limited, 
Income Constrained, Employed.
It is a comprehensive measurement
of financial hardship across Tennessee.


Read The Report ALICE in the Crosscurrents

This 2023 ALICE Report provides the first look at the extent offinancial hardship in Tennessee using ALICE metrics since the COVID-19 pandemicbegan. The pandemic has disrupted longstanding patterns in how and where peoplelive, work, study, save, and spend their time. And the story of ALICE and thepandemic is still unfolding as this Report is being written, amid an ongoinghealth crisis and an economic and public policy landscape that continues toshift.




United Ways of Tennessee launched a statewide data project, ALICE, which provides a comprehensive measure of financial hardship across our state. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

The ALICE reports tell the story of our community members who are going to work but are still struggling to survive, through a standardized methodology that assesses the cost of living in every county. ALICE is our neighbors, friends and family who may earn more than the official Federal Poverty Level, but still cannot afford the basic necessities for their family. 

ALICE lives in every county in Tennessee. Equipped with this data, the United Ways of Tennessee will convene, advocate and innovate in our local communities to highlight the issues faced by ALICE households, and to generate solutions which help them on their path to financial stability.

Across Tennessee, 47 percent of households struggle to afford the basic necessities of housing, child care, food, health care and transportation.

That's why United Ways across Tennessee have come together to bring you the ALICE Project. Standing for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed - ALICE represents those in our communities who are working yet still struggling to make ends meet.  The ALICE Reports are the most comprehensive depiction of need in Tennessee to date.


The 2019 release of our first ALICE Report informs the conversation about the real and present needs of our residents. Last year's report shows the increased cost of living, combined with low wages, reduced work hours, and depleted savings has led to an uneven economic recovery in Tennessee. That’s why Tennessee United Ways remain committed to serving ALICE, and all those in need, through programs that strive to improve the health, education, and financial stability of all Tennessee residents. Go back to the top of the page to see our new ALICE in TN 2020 Report that demonstrates how basic essentials have outstripped even minimum wages, among some of the more noteable data findings.

The New ALICE in Tennessee Report for 2020

The United Way ALICE Reports reveal the financial hardships of many Tennessee households.

Erratum Note:

In the previously issued version of the COVID-19 Impact Survey: 2020 Tennessee Results Report, an error in the database lead to the incorrect ALICE Threshold categorization for households with income above $100,000. That issue has been corrected in the latest version, which now shows that 33% of respondents had income below the ALICE Threshold and 66% had income above the ALICE Threshold. All statistical analyses of the differences between these groups have also been updated (shown in gold boxes throughout the document).

When COVID-19 hit, more than 800,000 Tennessee households were already one emergency away from financial ruin — a 10-year record high —setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis, according to the state’s new ALICE Report. It paints the picture of a crisis in the making with an 85% increase in Tennessee's ALICE households over 10 years, fueled by high-priced basics and stagnant wages. 


ALICE in Tennessee : A Financial Hardship Study shows that in 2018, the cost of survival ranged annually from $23,064 for a single adult, to $25,716 for a senior citizen and $65,040 for a family of four with an infant and a preschooler. Putting this in perspective, the median hourly wage for a retail salesperson, the most common occupation in Tennessee was $11.09, or $22,180 per year — less than all the budgets.

This mismatch between wages and costs is revealed by a new measurement debuting in this report, called the ALICE Essentials Index. 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. The result is that in 2018, two parents working full time needed to earn $16.26 an hour in order to afford the Household Survival Budget for a family of four. That’s up from a wage of $10.23 an hour affording that budget in 2007. During the same period, the number of low-wage jobs nearly doubled (up 113%)

For more state and county data and analysis, go to  

ALICE media coverage to date.

ALICE is raising recognition across Tennessee.

The 2019 ALICE Reports - See 2021 report for new data