ALICE: The Pandemic Divide 2021

This new report, The Pandemic Divide: An ALICE Analysis of National COVID Surveys, uses the results of four exceptional surveys to present powerful new findings on the impact of the pandemic on ALICE households — and critical new data about ALICE households overall. The report will provide important content for you to share immediately with your stakeholders, as well as to weave into your work next year.



Key takeaways from THE PANDEMIC DIVIDE: An ALICE Analysis of National COVID Surveys:


  1. For already vulnerable ALICE households, the pandemic was devastating. The findings of the four surveys run counter to an emerging narrative that the impact of the pandemic wasn’t that bad — e.g., that the economy is in full recovery, new businesses are opening at a record rate, household debt is near a low, savings rates and home prices are rising, and the stock market is at an all-time high. In stark contrast, the survey results show that households below the ALICE Threshold struggled throughout the pandemic to meet their most basic needs.
  2. ALICE families struggled financially, physically, and emotionally throughout the pandemic. The survey results show that from March 2020  to May 2021 , those below the ALICE Threshold experienced greater financial instability, more physical health problems, and greater mental health stress than those above the Threshold.  Even with the added protective measures of eviction moratoria, stimulus payments, and housing and food assistance programs, conditions worsened during COVID-19 for ALICE.
  3. ALICE households have little or no savings. Specifically, only one-third of households below the ALICE Threshold reported having rainy day funds in October 2019 . This percentage decreased to 29% by November 2020 . In contrast, the percentage of those above the ALICE Threshold with rainy day funds increased from 68% to 71% during the pandemic.
  4. ALICE workers have less employment stability. ALICE workers are more likely to be hourly paid or part-time, and during the pandemic they were more likely to have lost a job, had work hours reduced, or been looking for a job.
  5. ALICE families are more likely to include someone facing a mental health issue. More than one-third (35%) of respondents below the ALICE Threshold had been told by a health professional that they had a mental health issue like depression or PTSD (compared to 25% of those above the Threshold). And respondents below the ALICE Threshold were more likely to show elevated mental health symptoms during the pandemic, while those above the Threshold reported few or no symptoms.
  6. Racial and ethnic disparities were evident in all areas, including work, savings, health, and financial stability. These disparities persisted both above and below the ALICE Threshold, providing additional evidence of a systemic problem.