Creating opportunity for the ALICE population
How can Miami-Dade create opportunities for nearly a third of its population struggling to cover basic needs?
Read Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s essay on building Miami-Dade’s future workforce and how doing so will help many residents on the edge of financial crisis.
In many ways, Greater Miami’s future hinges on the fate of a specific - and large - contingent of the population. It’s a group described by a five-letter acronym: ALICE.
That is: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed.
There are almost a million households across Miami-Dade County and the number of ALICE households amounts to nearly a third. In sum, 327,444 households (out of 963,377) are gainfully employed but living on the edge, struggling to cover basic needs, and just one emergency away from falling into poverty, according to the 2023 ALICE Report by United Way Miami.
While our economy continues to grow, “many residents - like the ALICE population - are struggling to make ends meet,” writes Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava in our series “The Class of 2040: Essays on our next-generation workforce.” She added that this is a group “who work hard, but due to high costs and factors often beyond their control, live paycheck to paycheck. A small emergency, like car repairs or healthcare costs, can quickly become a financial crisis.”
For the eighth and final essay in our series with Opportunity Miami’s Academic Leaders Council exploring how we will meet the talent development needs of the future, Mayor Levine Cava shares her focus on expanding educational opportunities and driving prosperity to make the entire county, as she says, “Future Ready.”
You can read it here.
A BIG CHALLENGE
The challenge for Miami-Dade County is, like the county itself, a big one. Miami-Dade is far and away the biggest county in Florida. Miami-Dade has 2.67 million residents. No other Florida county eclipses 2 million; Broward is close at 1.94 million residents.
Meanwhile, the size of Miami-Dade’s opportunity gap is big too. According to the United Way Miami’s report, the household survival budget for a family of four is $76,284. Yet, the median income across Miami-Dade is $59,044. The result is that 34 percent are ALICE households struggling to make ends meet and another 17 percent of households living in poverty.
In sum, 51 percent of Miami-Dade households face financial hardship. The remaining 49 percent live above the ALICE threshold.
By contrast, nationally, 59 percent of households live above the threshold with 29 percent as ALICE households and 13 percent in poverty.
The solution, Mayor Levine Cava writes, is built on a cross-sector approach that includes government, businesses, startups, nonprofits, and educational institutions working together to expand opportunity through tools like educational scholarships, apprenticeships, job placement support, and programs that stir company building and entrepreneurship.
“Through a collective approach across all sectors, we can ensure that every resident is Future-Ready and has access to the opportunities they need to thrive,” writes Mayor Levine Cava.
MIAMI HUSTLES, BUT INCOMES NEED TO RISE
Greater Miami’s disparity isn’t because people aren’t working. The labor force participation rate in Miami-Dade is higher than across Florida: 59 percent of the adults in Miami-Dade are employed, compared to 56 percent across Florida, according to the United Way Miami report.
But more than half of workers in Miami-Dade - 55 percent - are paid by the hour. That can mean greater fluctuations in income and fewer benefits, or even not receiving any at all. It’s for this reason that even though Miami-Dade has higher labor force participation than Florida, the median household income in Miami-Dade is $4,018 less than across the state.
This, of course, brings us back to the imperative of building a workforce that can broadly participate in, even lead, an economy that is being revolutionized by artificial intelligence and the transition to net zero. And, as we have talked about many times before on the Opportunity Miami platform, our great opportunity in a community with 54 percent of its population born outside the US, is to build a uniquely diverse, skilled workforce that is unlike any other regional workforce in the hemisphere.
This is another way we can turn a great challenge today into a transformational opportunity for tomorrow. And, in so doing, shrink Miami-Dade’s ALICE population so many fewer families are living on the edge of financial struggle every day.
As always, if you have a company, person, or idea you want to share, please email us at email@example.com. We invite you to subscribe to watch our Interviews and On Site series featuring leaders shaping Miami’s future. If you were forwarded this newsletter, you can subscribe to us on Substack by clicking here. And if you are new to Opportunity Miami, you can learn about our mission and work here.
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