Pennsylvania Working Families Still Struggling Post-Pandemic

New ALICE Report Shows 1.4 Million Working Families Face Financial Hardships

HARRISBURG, PA – COVID-19 shined a spotlight on the difficulties many families face when there is sudden economic insecurity. Yet, as we step onto the other side of the pandemic, we see that many working families are still struggling and need support.

That was the point made by those gathered at the state Capitol today to discuss how to help families trying to make ends meet. A new report, ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Pennsylvania, released today by the United Way of Pennsylvania, through United for ALICE®, points out that 1.4 million Pennsylvania households are what would be considered ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). This means they earn more than the federal poverty level but still cannot afford basic needs like housing, childcare and food.

With the Federal Poverty Level as the primary way for policymakers and local stakeholders to gauge the extent of financial hardship in their communities, a huge portion of struggling households go unrecognized.

The report finds that job disruptions and inflation delivered significant financial pain. With inflation on the rise, there are warning signs that struggling households may face a more uncertain future and with COVID-19 supports diminishing, it’s imperative to identify long-term solutions to assist working families in Pennsylvania. 

From 2019 to 2021, the total number of households in Pennsylvania increased by 2% and the number of households below the ALICE Threshold (ALICE+ Poverty) increased by 7% (from 1,902,886 to 2,044,773). During this period, the share of households below the Threshold increased from 37% to 39%.

“It is extremely concerning that we have so many people in our state who are employed yet they can’t make ends meet for their families,” said Kristen Rotz, President of the United Way of Pennsylvania. “That is why this report is so important. We can look at the problem and see where we should allocate funds for programs in areas such as education, health care, food access, housing, and employment.”

United Way of Pennsylvania supports the creation of a refundable state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) to help support working Pennsylvania households. A proposal which will be introduced by bipartisan legislators in the House and Senate,  will model a Pennsylvania credit on the federal EITC, and it will extend tax relief to ALICE families who do not qualify for the only existing income tax break for low-income families, the tax forgiveness program.

A refundable state EITC returns some of the earnings of working Pennsylvanians to help with household costs, while generating $4 in economic impact for every $1 invested. The EITC also has potential to reduce social services spending by $3 for every $1 invested.

United Ways across the commonwealth will continue to use the ALICE data to help educate leaders about our communities, to highlight disparities and to advocate for policies liked the Earned Income Tax Credit that begin to reverse inequities and eliminate financial hardship for Pennsylvania’s working families.

To read the full report and access interactive dashboards that provide data on financial hardship in Pennsylvania at the state, county and local level, visit

About United Way Pennsylvania (UWP)

United Way of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to champion United Way as a leader and partner in building more financially resilient families and thriving communities throughout Pennsylvania. United Way of Pennsylvania envisions an inclusive, impactful, and collaborative network of United Ways working with business, community, faith, and government leaders to advance equitable access to health, education and financial stability for all Pennsylvanians.

United Way is committed to raising charitable dollars that are invested in community impact work which addresses needs specific to the local community. In many cases, these funds support public-private partnerships that further leverage state taxpayer dollars.

United Way also commits to advocate for policy change which will help more Pennsylvania families and communities achieve the basic building blocks of a good quality of life in Pennsylvania. UWP is a membership organization which serves as the voice for 43-member United Ways and 2 United Funds across the Commonwealth.

About United For ALICE  

United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research, and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate, and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state, and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 27 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit:

Contact: Kristen Rotz | Email: | Phone: 717-448-1663


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