New ALICE report also reveals nearly half of veterans in Hattiesburg and surrounding counties are financially insecure
HATTIESBURG, MISS. – They’ve served and sacrificed for our country yet nearly one-third — 31% — of Mississippi’s 150,479 veterans struggle to afford the basics, according to a new report from United Way of Southeast Mississippi and its research partner United For ALICE.
In 2019, while 8% of the state’s veterans were deemed in poverty, 23% — nearly 3 times as many — were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 31% of Mississippi’s veterans were below the ALICE Threshold of Financial Survival, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.
For the Southeast Mississippi region – encompassing Forrest, Lamar, Marion, and Perry counties – 45% of veterans are below the ALICE threshold, higher when compared to the overall data for the state.
“Our freedom comes with the responsibility to ensure that those who have served and sacrificed don’t struggle to make ends meet once they return home,” said United Way of Southeast Mississippi CEO Tracie Fowler. “Although veterans do have additional supports not afforded to nonveterans, clearly there’s still room for improvement.”
There are some lessons to be learned from the ALICE in Focus: Veterans data, said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. The state’s veterans are slightly better off than nonveterans with 31% struggling to make ends meet compared to 44% of adults who never served.
“Veterans have higher rates of full-time employment, are more likely to be homeowners, and have more comprehensive health insurance coverage and disability benefits,” Hoopes said. “This suggests that the supports afforded veterans are making a difference and could provide invaluable insights for developing strategies that help nonveterans facing financial hardship.”
Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Veterans include
- Racial and ethnic inequities persist with 43% of Black veterans in Mississippi living below the ALICE Threshold compared to 26% of white and Hispanic veterans.
- Veterans with disabilities struggled more to afford the basics — 41%—compared to 25% of veterans without disabilities.
- Inequities also appear for Black veterans with disabilities — 53% lived below the ALICE Threshold in comparison with 37% of white and Hispanic veterans with disabilities.
- While working, veterans still experience financial hardship with 13% of veterans with full-time employment living below the ALICE Threshold and 47% of veterans working part time.
- Of veterans who graduated high school but had not completed post-secondary education, 32% were living below the ALICE Threshold.
More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Veterans interactive data dashboard, which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements, work status and proximity to military bases. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Veterans.
If you or someone you know is a Mississippi veteran struggling to make ends meet, contact your local Veteran Service Officer, available at msva.ms.gov/serviceofficers. For veterans in need of financial assistance, visit 5thsquad.com.
ALICE in Focus: Veterans marks the third installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series highlights a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. The other installments focused on children and people with disabilities.
About United Way of Southeast Mississippi
United Way of Southeast Mississippi is a local nonprofit organization that strives to make a positive impact in Forrest, Lamar, Marion and Perry counties. By providing funds to partnering agencies, United Way addresses community issues in the areas of education, economic mobility, health and support services. For more information about United Way of Southeast Mississippi or to learn more about how to get involved, visit unitedwaysems.org or call 601-545-7141.
About United For ALICE
United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 24 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org.