The rapid spread of COVID-19 has exposed critical shortcomings in our economy and in our systems of health care and education. In the midst of this crisis, the ALICE measures show how profoundly Tennessee’s most vulnerable households are being affected.

Our partner - United For ALICE - uses data to recognize and upend barriers to financial stability, and to reform institutional bias. We know that going back to pre-COVID-19 norms will not produce a sustainable or growing economy. And traditional economic measures do not capture what ALICE workers and their families are experiencing in this unprecedented moment.


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).

New COVID-19 Impact Survey Report


This link takes you to the United for ALICE COVID-19 page, where their map tracker can break down ALICE and COVID-19 statistics on a state-by-state and county-by-county basis.


ALICE Measures Can Guide Recovery 

By more accurately identifying need, the ALICE measures can guide better policies and practices to help families weather the current crisis. COVID-19 shows how exposed ALICE households — and therefore all our communities and businesses — are to an emergency. We know that:


The pandemic has created two groups of ALICE workers: those who are essential and still working, typically on-site; and those who are non-essential, who are now working far fewer hours or not at all.

·         Essential ALICE workers continue tokeep our infrastructure running and take care of COVID-19 patients and others needing health care

o   Many do not have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), so they are risking their health — and their families’ health

o   Some employers have stepped up and are providing“hero’s pay,” but even $2 per hour more does not bring most ALICE workers to financial stability

o   Despite the ongoing economic slowdown, some employers have already pulled back "hero’s pay"

o   Even essential ALICE workers are still struggling paycheck to paycheck

·         For many non-essential ALICE workers, the economic slowdown has severely reduced employment

o   The industries where ALICE works – food service, leisure, hospitality, tourism – have been hit the hardest

o   ALICE is more likely to work in small businesses, which on average offer lower wages and fewer benefits, and have been hit hardest by the pandemic: The number of small businesses open in the U.S. decreased by 19.1% between January and August 2020 

o   Black and Hispanic ALICE workers are facing even higher rates of unemployment

o   With less access to the internet and computers, ALICE workers have more difficulty working from home


Black people are contracting COVID-19 at higher rates and dying at higher rates than their White counterparts. These disparities are being fed by multiple factors:

·         Black households are more likely to face financial hardship: 60% of Black households are unable to afford basic household essentials in their communities — nearly double the rate of White households

·         Black families remain disproportionately likely to live in substandard housing in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty — those with few grocery stores, banks, parks, or recreation facilities, within adequate health care services and under-resourced public schools, and with high levels of violence and exposure to environmental hazards

·         Black households and communities have long faced institutional barriers to quality health care

Alice families with children face additional hardships

Almost one in four families with children in the U.S. have income below the ALICE Threshold. They are especially vulnerable to the disruptions that accompany childcare, school, and university closures.

·         More than one-quarter of households below the ALICE Threshold do not have adequate internet access, compromising participation in e-learning

·         Parents who need to work cannot stay at home with their children, leading to health and safety issues for unsupervised children or jeopardizing a parent’s ability to work

·         ALICE families can lose access to other supports, such as free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches provided at school

Alice seniors face greater risks

People over the age of 60 are the age group most susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19. Half of seniors in the U.S. have income below the ALICE Threshold; they have no extra income and little or no savings to cover extra health care costs.

·         More than 40% of U.S. coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes, which puts both ALICE seniors and ALICE health care workers at higher risk

·         ALICE seniors are at higher risk of loneliness and isolation, and as the pandemic continues, they also risk declining nutrition and health as social distancing limits trips to the grocery store and preventative care visits

·         When senior centers close, ALICE seniors and their families must navigate additional burdens, such as taking on caregiving responsibilities and adapting to the loss of supports like hot meals and social activity


For information or help in meeting basic needs due to
COVID-19, contact your local 2-1-1.