Idaho

Idaho has ‘ZIP code syndrome:’ Where you live predicts your well-being

United Way CEO explains A.L.I.C.E.

Nora Carpenter, CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley, explains how Idaho's "Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed" residents are teetering on the edge of financial crisis.
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Nora Carpenter, CEO of United Way of Treasure Valley, explains how Idaho's "Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed" residents are teetering on the edge of financial crisis.

People in certain parts of Idaho are better positioned to survive in the economy than others, data show.

Families are struggling throughout the state, according to a recent report by United Way of Treasure Valley. The report analyzed widespread financial insecurity in households are under the poverty line or over it but “asset limited, income constrained, employed” — ALICE for short.

Many Idahoans do not qualify for safety-net programs because they are above the federal poverty line, but they still struggle to pay their bills, lack health insurance and have barriers to education. They “earn too much but not enough,” said Nora Carpenter, the nonprofit’s CEO, in a presentation Thursday at United Way’s Boise office.

“Where you live, for the very first time, told us very clearly what your life expectancy would look like, what your children’s life would look like,” Carpenter said, calling that “ZIP code syndrome.”

Certain parts of Idaho are struggling more than others. There are high rates of people living below the ALICE threshold in Ketchum and Parma and on the Mountain Home Air Force Base, the report said. Owyhee County has the highest share of households — 62 percent — that are either in poverty or in the ALICE group, the report said.

The details how, in addition to Idaho’s 15 percent of households in poverty, another 22 percent cannot afford a stable household budget.

[Read more: Working poor: 1 in 3 Idaho households struggles to pay for the basics]

Two of the highest-cost budget items in Idaho are child care and housing, the data show.

Child care is the No. 1 expense for every Census tract in Idaho, Carpenter said. That is based on the cost for in-home child care, which is cheaper than a licensed child care center.

[Read more: Idaho’s child care dilemma: Too expensive, and workers paid too low]

Audrey Dutton: 208-377-6448, @IDS_Audrey

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