1.2 Million Pennsylvanians Cannot Afford Household Basics
New United Way of PA Report Sheds Light on Financial Hardships
Philadelphia, Pa. (June 18, 2019) – United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), along with United Way of Pennsylvania and regional partners, today released a report that shows that 1.2 million Pennsylvania households earn more than the federal poverty level but still not enough to pay for essentials such as housing, food, transportation and child care. When the number of households that live below the federal poverty level are added, the result is 1.8 million, or 37 percent, of Pennsylvania households are struggling to survive.
The ALICE® report, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, is an initiative of the Pennsylvania network of United Ways to raise awareness of the challenges faced by working families and to mobilize organizations and individuals who want to support strategies and policies that move ALICE along their journey to financial stability.
“Poverty is our region’s number one challenge, with 26 percent of people in Philadelphia alone living in poverty” said Bill Golderer, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. “When you add to that the sheer number of those living above the poverty line but still unable to pay for basic needs and essentials, the trend is simply untenable. The lack of economic empowerment and limited opportunities for ALICE leaves us uncompetitive as a region, limits our ability to grow and retain talent, and leaves an entire generation of children behind. To eliminate poverty, we have to understand and address the issues of people on the cusp, the very people who are the keystone of our economy, and represent a large portion of the purchasing power of local households. Now that we are more fully aware of the struggles ALICE faces, we must come together. It will take all of us working together to help ALICE take steps toward empowering them and creating new opportunity.”
UWP’s report defines the cost of a bare-minimum household budget for each county in the state. Referred to as the survival budget, it is not sustainable, but is a more realistic measure than the federal poverty level. Any Pennsylvanian who is not earning enough to afford the survival budget is ALICE®. Even those who earn more than the cost of the household survival budget are at risk, and the ALICE stability budget is a representation of a sustainable family budget in the modern economy, with a few extras and a 10-percent savings commitment every month.
Additional data highlights revealed by the research include:
• Seventy-five percent of Pennsylvania’s 2,408 county subdivisions, with available data, have more than 30 percent of households living at an income below the ALICE survival threshold.
• Only three of Pennsylvania’s top 20 largest-employing occupations pay enough to support the average Pennsylvania family’s household survival budget.
• The national inflation rate from 2007-2017 was 22 percent, but the cost of the bare-minimum family budget increased by 33 percent, and the bare minimum single adult budget by 26 percent over that same time period. During that 10-year period, Pennsylvanians' median income increased by only 20 percent.
“The issue of poverty and the struggle of ALICE aren’t just economic, policy or political issues. These are moral issues. These aren’t just stats, but real people – like your child’s preschool teacher, the nursing assistant who lives across the street, the retail worker who sold you your new suit – who are essential to our community, our economy and our future. We need to address these issues so everyone in our community has an opportunity to thrive,” Golderer added.
The full report, an interactive map, the ALICE experience, and more are available at www.uwp.org/alice.
About United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, serving communities in Pennsylvania’s Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties, and New Jersey’s Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May and Cumberland counties, is part of a national network of more than 1,300 locally governed organizations that work to create lasting positive changes in communities and in people’s lives. United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, United Way fights for youth success and family stability because we LIVE UNITED against inter-generational poverty. For more information about United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey visit www.UnitedForImpact.org.
Contact (for statewide perspective)
Kristen Rotz, UWP
Contact (for local perspective)
Phil Jackson, UWGPSNJ