By Sean Sauro- Updated Jun 20, 2019; Posted Jun 20, 2019
People living in 1.8 million Pennsylvania households — 37 percent of homes in the state — lack the income to cover the costs of basic necessities like housing, food, transportation and child care, according to the United Way of Pennsylvania.
“Some of us are just getting by — one broken furnace or medical emergency away from catastrophic consequences, because we live day-to-day and can’t save up for life’s unexpected events,” Kristen Rotz, president of the United Way of Pennsylvania said in a letter earlier this week.
That 1.8 million figure includes 1.2 million households with incomes above the federal poverty level but who still cannot afford basic necessities for their families.
The Untied Way, in a new report, calls them “ALICE” households — short for “Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed."
Officials at the United Way coined the term ALICE in the report, which is based on a recent statewide data project looking at income figures from the year 2017.
The 119-page report, aims to provide a better understanding of ALICE households while looking at possible solutions to the issues of those operating within the underpaid workforce, officials said.
Problems within that workforce are exacerbated by shifts in the employment landscape, United Way officials said, pointing to the following:
An increase in the number of jobs that are paid by the hour, project or contract, along with a decrease in full-time salaried jobs
The economy’s growing dependence on low-wage jobs across locations, industries and types of companies
Barriers to opportunity that keep wages low for specific groups of workers and prevent others from working
On average, Pennsylvania counties showed 8 percent of households within the poverty level — an income at or below $12,060 for a single adult and $24,600 for a family of four — according to the report.
Another 24 percent are within the ALICE level — in Pennsylvania, that’s defined as a $20,260 income for a single adult and $59,340 for a family of four, United Way officials said.
The average unemployment rate in the state is 5.3 percent and the median household income is $59,195, officials said.
Officials at the United Way have published an interactive map on their website, showing a breakdown of households in all of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Information for central Pennsylvania counties in PennLive’s immediate coverage area can be seen below: