New Research: 76% of Louisiana’s Black Children Lived in Financial Hardship Pre-Pandemic

New research: 76% of Louisiana’s Black Children Lived in Financial Hardship Pre-Pandemic

New report and interactive tools reveal that federal poverty data undercounts how many children of all races are growing up amid financial insecurity.

ALEXANDRIA, LA– The majority of Louisiana’s Black and Hispanic children — 76% and 66% respectively — lived in households that couldn’t afford the basics in 2019, compared to 42% of white children, according to a new report from United Way of Central Louisiana and its research partner United For ALICE.

ALICE in Focus: Children reveals the disproportionate impact of financial hardship on the state’s Black and Hispanic children, while also challenging the reliance on federal poverty guidelines for eligibility for assistance programs. The report finds traditional measures of poverty have severely undercounted the number of children of all races ages 18 and younger in Louisiana who are growing up in financially insecure households.

While 26% of all children in the state were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 31% lived in families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 57% of Louisiana’s children lived in households below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.

“Undercounting the number of children who are at risk can have lifelong consequences. To properly serve Central Louisiana, we must have data of the harsh realities of poverty in our community for families and children,” United Way of Central Louisiana Executive Director and CEO, Michelle Purl said. “Thousands of children are locked out of receiving critical supports for stable housing, food, and quality education, all of which can inhibit healthy child development.”

Because ALICE households often earn too much to qualify for public assistance, the report finds that 341,000 at-risk children didn’t access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Children include:

  • Having two working parents didn’t guarantee financial stability: 29% of Louisiana children lived in a home with two working adults whose income didn’t meet the cost of basic needs in 2019.
  • Among households below the ALICE Threshold, families of Black children had the lowest homeownership rate at 31% in comparison with 62% of families of white children.
  • Nearly 245,000 children in households earning below the ALICE Threshold had no high-speed internet access at home.

“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much

harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”

According to the new research, 42% of Louisiana families below the ALICE Threshold reported in the fall of 2021 that their children “sometimes or often” didn’t have enough to eat, in contrast with 31% of higher income families.

More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Children interactive data dashboard – which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements and household work status. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Children.

ALICE in Focus: Children is the first installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series will highlight a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. Upcoming topics include people with disabilities and veterans.


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