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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Struggling While Employed: Why A Job Isn't Enough For 42 Percent Of Texas Households

New research shows that whether or not they have a job, more than four in 10 Texans are struggling to make ends meet.

A new statewide study shows 42 percent of Texas households struggle to make ends meet — households where at least one adult is working. In Dallas County, it's 43 percent. 

That's according to a new alternative measure to the Federal Poverty Level, the ALICE report, which gives a more-updated look at the number of families living on the edge of financial crisis.

Adrianna Cuellar Rojas heads the United Ways of Texas and breaks down the ALICE report's latest findings.

Interview highlights

On what the acronym ALICE means:ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, and for us that is the number of households that are working and yet struggling.”

On how the ALICE metric differs from the poverty level: “Poverty level was initially determined in the 1960s, and at that time one of the most significant things in the budget for a household was food. Today food is not likely going to be one of the main drivers of your own budget. It is likely going to be transportation or your rent or mortgage or child care. This is an updated and more, what we feel, more accurate representation of the number of people that are working and yet still struggling.”

On how life on the financial edge has changed in the last five years: “I think what is changing is more on the expense side of the equation. So child care costs are increasing, transportation costs are increasing. Housing is increasing. And then on the workforce side, the kinds of jobs that people are holding are changing. There's not as many stable, consistent, full-time jobs that are paying a wage that is going to put people out of poverty. “

On whether certain counties in Texas are better off than others: “We tried to look for some trends as well but you will find high poverty rates in South Texas as well as East Texas as well as the Panhandle, urban and suburban. So there are not a lot of generalizations except that consistently you find ALICE in every county, in every county in our state.”

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.