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New report shows many Mississippi households struggle to get by

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - A new report details about 50% of Mississippi households lived paycheck-to-paycheck in 2019.

A Mississippi family of four is sharing their daily struggles of making ends meet.

“We don’t qualify for Medicaid because we make too much, so we can’t get that for the boys,” said Julie Seawright, ALICE family.

Julie and her husband both work two jobs and have two young children. She explains that their biggest struggle is health care.

“The boys and I go to a nurse practitioner for our ADHD and other mental health needs. Each visit for the three of us is $700 dollars. The 10 prescriptions that our family needs each month is another $200 dollars, and while we do use Good RX, it’s still expensive,” Seawright said.

This family is just one example of the large percentage of Mississippi households living paycheck-to-paycheck.

The United Ways of Mississippi Association released Mississippi’s ALICE Report Tuesday. ALICE stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.”

We’re told these are households who earn enough income to be above the Federal Poverty Level but are one emergency away from falling below it.

“Of course common sense tells us that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation for many,” said Ira Murray, President & CEO, United Way of the Capital Area.

The ALICE report used data taken pre-pandemic. It shows in 2019, 31% of Mississippi households fell into the ALICE threshold, while 19% lived below the Federal Poverty Level.

For example, ALICE data shows 35% of Forrest County households met ALICE criteria, and another 24% lived below the FPL in 2019.

“That’s 50%, half of the state, struggling on a good day to make ends meet,” Murray said.

“These are the hard-working families who are working their fingers to the bone, but receiving little to zero public assistance,” said Michele Connelly, President & CEO, United Way of West Central Mississippi. “They are tired, they are frustrated, and they are working in a system that is not working for them.”

As a solution for families like the Seawrights, officials say change needs to happen across all sectors of business, and they hope the ALICE report is a step in the right direction.

“We believe the ALICE report can inspire the right kind of conversations in homes, non-profits, churches, businesses, and at the municipal and state government offices. And we believe it is essential to have this data to shine a light on all of the ALICE’s across the state of Mississippi,” Murray said.

To read more on the Mississippi ALICE report, search #meetMSALICE on social media.

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