Research in Tennessee 

This ALICE Report provides the first look at the extent of financial hardship in Tennessee using ALICE metrics
since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The pandemic has disrupted longstanding patterns in how and where people
live, work, study, save, and spend their time. And the
story of ALICE and the pandemic is still unfolding as this
Report is being written, amid an ongoing health crisis and
an economic and public policy landscape that continues
to shift. In a time of change, United For ALICE remains
committed to providing the most up-to-date local data
possible on financial hardship in Tennessee and across
the U.S

Tennessee State Downloads

We all know people who are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed— earning more than the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford the basics where they live. ALICE workers were celebrated as essential heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they do not earn enough to support their own families. ALICE households and households in poverty are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent — choices that have long-term consequences not only for their families, but for all.



United For ALICE calculates the cost of household essentials for all counties in Tennessee. These costs, outlined in the Household Survival Budget, are calculated for various household sizes and compositions.

Of Tennessee's 2,740,302 households in 2021…

  • 14% earned below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 30% were ALICE, in households that earned above the FPL but not enough to afford the basics in the communities where they live
  • Together, 44% of households in Tennessee were below the ALICE Threshold (poverty + ALICE divided by total households)

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought employment shifts, health struggles,and school/business closures in 2021, it also spurred unprecedented public assistance through pandemic relief measures. In 2019, 1,211,160households in Tennessee were below the ALICE Threshold; by 2021, that number had changed to 1,196,900.


Household Survival Budget: The bare-minimum costs of basic necessities (housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan).

ALICE Threshold: The average income needed to afford the Household Survival Budget. Households belowthe ALICE Threshold include both ALICE and poverty-level households.

ALICE: Households with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living.

Poverty: Households earning below the Federal Poverty Level

Total Households: The number of households as reported by the American Community Survey.