1.2 Million Pennsylvanians Cannot Afford Household Basics

New United Way of PA Report Sheds Light on Financial Hardships

HARRISBURG, Pa. (June 18, 2019) – The United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP), along with statewide 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.

“United Ways in Pennsylvania are committed to understanding the communities we serve. For us to create long-lasting community change, we need to address the underlying causes of the most significant local issues that ALICE faces,” said Kristen Rotz, president of UWP. “ALICE  is the keystone of the Pennsylvania economy. ALICE represents a large portion of the purchasing power of Pennsylvania households. All Pennsylvanians lean on ALICE for support on a daily basis. Now that we are aware of the struggles ALICE faces, we must come together to help ALICE take steps toward lasting financial stability.”

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.

“ALICE  is a lot of hard-working Pennsylvanians who are essential to our state’s economy. ALICE

can be a child care worker, nursing assistant, office worker or retail associate. Our communities would not thrive without the contributions of ALICE,” Rotz, noted.

The full report, an interactive map, the ALICE  experience, and more are available at www.uwp.org/alice.


About United Way of Pennsylvania (UWP)

United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In 2017, United Ways in Pennsylvania raised nearly $170 million for local communities. The United Way of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) was created in 1966 as Community Services of PA, and was renamed in 1979. It is a membership organization whose purpose is to assist and champion the efforts of local United Ways in advancing the common good. Other charitable organizations known as United Funds or Community Chests also can be members of UWP.

UWP engages and connects local United Ways with resources that will help them address their community needs. UWP serves as the voice for 46 member United Ways across the commonwealth on state public policy issues that relate to community impact work in education, income and health.


Kristen Rotz, United Way of Pennsylvania

Maggie Livelsberger, United Way of Pennsylvania
717-238-7365 ext. 203

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