We all know people who are ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE workers educate our children, keep us healthy, and make our quality of life possible, yet do not earn enough to support their own families. ALICE households are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, which have long-term consequences not only for ALICE, but for all.
In 2021, the impact of the pandemic on workers’ wages and wage gains did not translate uniformly across all jobs and sectors in terms of the share of households that were still left below the ALICE Threshold. Of the 20 most common occupations in Texas in 2021,65% paid less than $20 per hour. Most of these saw an increase in the median wage; for example, the median wage for retail sales increased by 14% to $13.03 per hour statewide in 2021. But given that wages had stagnated for a decade, many of the most common jobs still had a substantial percentage of workers who lived below the ALICE Threshold in 2021 (Figure 4). The wage to cover the ALICE Household Survival Budget for a single adult was $12.26 per hour working full time, or for a family with
two adults and two children, a combined wage of $30.33 per hour.
While there were ALICE workers in all sectors in Texas, the top occupations with the highest percentage of workers below the ALICE Threshold in 2021 were cook; personal care aide; cashier; waiter/waitress; and fast food/counter worker.