Michigan’s economy isn’t working for everyone.
That was the message of the ALICE Summit held on the campus of Saginaw Valley State University Tuesday.
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. In other words, people who are employed but who struggle to afford child care, food, health care, and housing. A 2019 report from the Michigan Association of United Ways has found 43% of Michigan residents fit this definition.
Lou Glazer is the President of Michigan Future Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to creating prosperity in the state.
He said it’s clear the economy isn’t working for everyone.
“There are a higher proportion of Michigan households who can’t pay for basic necessities today than in 2010 when we were coming out of the Great Recession.”
Sarah Kile is the Director of 211 Northeast Michigan, which helped host the event. She said the findings mean new solutions are needed to help people - particularly for this group that doesn’t meet the federal definition of poverty.
“How can we respond to help ALICE? Because it’s a different population than what we’ve traditionally [said] ‘well they are below poverty guidelines here are the programs,’” she said. “We need to start having a conversation about the people who are above poverty guidelines but still struggle.”
Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist said more needs to be done to assist Michigan residents in need. And, he added, the legislature needs to “step up.”
“We have put forward our values that these are people who are worth investing in because they are the present and the future of the state of Michigan. I think if the Republican leadership agrees with that they should come to the table to work with us to fund these important investments in our budget.”
Gilchrist outlined several budget items he said will improve the lives of poor Michigan residents, including increasing access to childcare, funding for education, and a program to help residents refinance student loans.