United Way Issues ALICE Report for Pennsylvania

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) One million-plus Pennsylvania households do not make enough income to pay for the basics like food, housing, and childcare. But they make too much to apply for federal assistance. Today, a rally to raise awareness at the state capitol. Eyewitness News Harrisburg Reporter Matt Heckel reports.

Preston Stackfield works as a banker.

I do everything from opening checking accounts to loans, Stackfield said.

Making a career out of helping people manage their finances. But at home finances are a daily struggle.

A lot of times, people think when someone works in banking, they have everything together. But, I tell people, we live paycheck to paycheck, said Stackfield.

To make ends meet Preston switched jobs. He used to work in insurance. He and his wife work separate shifts simply to avoid high childcare costs for their three kids but despite those struggles, government help isn’t an option.

A lot of people, they might make too much for the assistance, but they’re still living paycheck to paycheck and struggling because they’re sort of forgotten about, Stackfield said.

Which is why Preston was at the state capitol Tuesday raising awareness for those like him who are ALICE.

It stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, said Timothy Fatzinger, President & Ceo, United Way of The Capital Region

The United Way of Pennsylvania releasing their ALICE report. Finding that 1.2 million Pennsylvania households earn more than the federal poverty level. Just under 25-thousand for a family of four. But still not enough to make ends meet.

Inflation is outpacing wages as part of this. Because of that factor, we see this getting worse as part of it noted Fatzinger.

Now those behind the ALICE project as well as Preston. Hope raising awareness about the issue can lead to change.

And then hopefully, in the future, once that awareness is raised, they can implement programs from there.

UNITED WAY OF WYOMING COUNTY

United Way of Wyoming Valley, released the ALICE study of hard-working Pennsylvanians who still struggle to survive financially.  

The study reveals 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 childcare.  Bill Jones of the President of the United Way of the Wyoming Valley said the announcement gives even deeper impact to United Way of Wyoming Valleys Poverty to Possibility efforts.

27 percent of families in Luzerne County live above the poverty line but still struggle to make ends meet. These are the families that are working from paycheck to paycheck. These are the families that are one crisis away from financial hardship, said Bill Jones, CEO and President United Way of Wyoming Valley.

You can learn more about the ALICE program on PAHomepage.com. Jones talked about the ALICE program during this month’s Newsmakers program.  The show can be seen on June 30 on WBRE at 11:30 am.  It can also be seen on line on PAHomepage.

Learn about the ALICE program:

The United Way of Wyoming Valley 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 childcare. 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 struggling to survive.

The study looks at the population of more than 315,000 people living in Luzerne County. In Luzerne County, 40 percent of all households fall within the ALICE guidelines, including the 13 percent of Luzerne County households living below the poverty line. (See attached for detailed statistics for Luzerne County.) 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.

“ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk,” said Bill Jones, President/CEO of United Way of Wyoming Valley. Nearly 51,000 households in Luzerne County fall within ALICE parameters. Despite working hard, adults in those households cannot always pay the bills, have little or nothing in savings, and are forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality childcare or paying the rent. What is also concerning is that 39 percent of all Luzerne County families with children are ALICE families. When parents struggle, so do the children in those families.

The statewide report defines the cost of a bare-minimum household budget for each county in Pennsylvania. 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. 1.2 million Pennsylvanians Cannot Afford Household Basics New United Way of PA Report Sheds Light on Financial Hardships (MORE)

 · 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 the keystone of the Pennsylvania economy and ALICE represents a large portion of the purchasing power of Pennsylvania households,” said Bill Jones. “The United Way of Wyoming Valley has been working on many of these issues since we changed our model of service in 2015. To create long-lasting community change, we need to address the underlying causes of the most significant local issues that ALICE faces.”

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


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