The Most Popular Name in the U.S. Will Surprise, and Depress, You

There are nearly 2.5 million people in the U.S. named Smith, and nearly 2 million named Johnson, according to the 2010 Census.

But those numbers are dwarfed by the most popular family name in America. Care to take a guess what that name might be? The picture above is somewhat of a hint.

According to the United Way, the most popular family name in the U.S. is ALICE, with over 34.7 million families dubbed ALICE.

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed “to survive in the modern economy.”

When combined with the 16.1 million households living in poverty, these 51 million families represent 43% of the U.S. population.

This means that nearly half the households in the U.S. households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation, and a cell phone.

Stephanie Hoopes, the director for Project ALICE, notes that “despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem.”

The study noted that some 66% of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour, and even that amount may not be enough. For instance, in Seattle’s King County, the annual household survival budget for a family of four (including one infant and one preschooler) in 2016 was nearly $85,000. This would require an hourly wage of $42.46. But in Washington State, only 14% of jobs pay more than $40 an hour.

So while many in the U.S. have benefitted from the growing economy and the record-setting bull market. it’s important to realize that not everyone has benefitted.

So while many families are in the midst of making summer travel plans, many families are left struggling worrying about feeding and how to keep their children safe this summer while there is no school in session.

In most of these situations, the extreme difference in family outcomes is merely a result of the ovarian lottery, aka, the luck of birth.

I’m not discounting the value of hard work, it’s just that you usually need to be born lucky in order to benefit from your hard work.

The person working eight hours a day at McDonalds is probably working just as hard as the person putting in eight hours a day on Wall Street.

So it’s not just hard work; it’s opportunity and hope that are needed to help raise the standard of living for all those ALICEs out there.

Let’s hope that Smith and Johnson soon reclaim their rightful place at the top of the list of most popular names in the U.S., and that ALICE returns to being best known as a restaurant.

And be sure to pay heed to Arlo’s words: “if you want to end war and stuff you got to sing loud” when the refrain comes around at the end. If only that’s all it took…

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