According to a recent report released by the United Way of Pennsylvania, 37 percent of people in the state, and 44 percent of people in the county, don’t make enough money to pay for essential items like housing, food, transportation and child care, but still make more than the federal poverty level.
The ALICE report, or Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed report, is from the state’s network of United Way agencies that provide statistical information to aid helping people find financial stability.
Kathy Armillei, executive director of Huntingdon County United Way, further clarified how many households in the county are impacted by not being financially stable, but household income is higher than the federal poverty level.
“Out of 16,935 households in the county, 7,451 can’t afford the basics,” she said. “This is the population of working class that struggle day to day and can be one bill away from asking which bill do I have to pay this week.”
According to a press release from the Huntingdon County United Way, further statistics from the ALICE report revealed that only three of the state’s top 20 largest-employing occupations pay enough to support the average family household survival budget, and 75% of the state’s 2,408 county subdivisions have more than 30 percent of households living at an income below the ALICE survival threshold.
Armillei further explained that for a single person, the federal poverty level is $12,140 per year, but the ALICE survival budget is $20,184 per year. For a family of four, the federal poverty level is $25,100, but the ALICE survival budget is $43,716 per year.
“According to the federal government, that’s what you can make and survive, but we all know that’s not possible,” she said.
The biggest concern Armillei noted is that while many families are struggling to make ends meet, they don’t qualify for federal aid because their average household income is much higher than the federal poverty level.
“We don’t have programs that address the ALICE population,” she said. “We’re trying to figure out how we can help this population where it’s sustainable. This data will help us.”
Pennsylvania has become the 18th state to work with the ALICE report through United Way agencies to see how this data can help this population.
“This originally started in New Jersey 10 years ago,” said Armillei. “Other states saw how this data could help, and other United Way agencies are getting on board. We want to work with legislators and government to see if we can figure out programs to put in place at the state and federal level to help that population.”