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Groundbreaking new study reveals 38 percent of Muscatine households struggle to afford basics

June 22, 2016
State Contact: Deann Cook, Executive Director
United Ways of Iowa
[email protected]

Local Contact: Shane J. Orr, Executive Director
United Way of Muscatine
[email protected]

Kim Warren, AIM Director
Aligned Impact Muscatine
[email protected]

Groundbreaking new study reveals 38 percent of Muscatine households struggle to afford basics

United Way ALICE Report details size and scope of financial hardship in Iowa

IMPORTANT NOTE: To read an embargoed copy of the report and find county-by-county and municipal-level data on the size and demographics of ALICE, as well as the costs and community conditions faced by ALICE households, visit and contact Deann Cook at [email protected] for your password. The document is available to media only and is embargoed until 12:01 am on June 29th.

United Ways of Iowa will be hosting a tele-press conference at 10:00 am June 29th. To register and receive call-in info visit:

Des Moines, Iowa – In Iowa, 381,266 households – 31 percent of the state’s total – are unable to afford the state’s cost of living, according to the United Way ALICE Report for Iowa to be released on June 22nd. In Muscatine County, 33% of households live below the ALICE Threshold, and in the city of Muscatine, 38% do.

ALICE, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty. ALICE is a conceptual blending of those who are working and earning, but are not able to afford a basic needs budget in the county in which they live. The United Way ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial needs in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the US Census. The report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Iowa workers are struggling financially, and why.

“United Way of Muscatine is a proud partner in bringing ALICE to Iowa.” said Shane J. Orr. “Throughout the state, there are many families who are working but are still not able to meet their basic needs of housing, child care, food, and transportation. These are your friends, neighbors and coworkers. It’s time to bring focus to this often overlooked group. The ALICE report will help us start the conversations about how we can best help this growing segment of our community.”

In Muscatine, 16% of the population live below the Federal Poverty Level. The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa shows that an ADDITIONAL 22% of Muscatine residents are unable to afford life’s basic necessities of housing, transportation, food, health care and child care despite having income above the Federal Poverty Level designation. These are households earning more than the official U.S. poverty level, but less that the very basic cost of living in our community.

In Muscatine, United Way is just one of many community partners that have come together as Aligned Impact Muscatine (AIM) to address some of Muscatine’s most pressing issues. AIM’s Leadership Council has been hard at work evaluating community data, surveying local programs and collaborations, and building strategy networks.

“This report highlights the need for AIM to focus on academic success, post-secondary completion, and the training of adults to meet workforce demands.” said Kim Warren, AIM Director. “We believe that by focusing on increasing education levels, it will give people the skills to obtain higher paying jobs. No one organization can address these complicated issues alone. It is going to take all of us working together over a long period of time, but we know with the support of the community, we can achieve our goals.”

The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa provides high-quality, research-based information to foster a better understanding of our communities. The research was led by Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, Ph.D., United Way ALICE Project National Director. Her staff collaborated with a 13-person Iowa Research Advisory Committee which represented a number of Iowa’s colleges, universities, state departments and nonprofits, who advised and contributed to this report.

Iowa is the eleventh state to complete an ALICE study. This collaborative model, practiced in each state, ensures each United Way ALICE Report presents unbiased data that is replicable, easily updated periodically, and sensitive to local context. Working closely with United Ways, the United Way ALICE Project seeks to equip communities with information to create innovative solutions.

About United Ways of Muscatine
United Way of Muscatine is dedicated to making Muscatine a great place to live, work, and raise a family and continues to strengthen the collective capacity of the people of the Greater Muscatine area to care for one another. To learn more about United Way of Muscatine visit

About Aligned Impact Muscatine
Aligned Impact Muscatine is a grant-funded initiative that uses the collective impact framework to address some of our community’s most pressing issues. AIM’s Leadership Council community partners are: Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry, ISU Extension and Outreach, Muscatine Community College, Muscatine Community School District, Muscatine Community YMCA, Muscatine County Community Services, Musser Public Library, Trinity Muscatine New Horizons, Trinity Muscatine Public Health, and United Way of Muscatine. To learn more about AIM visit