United Way Report Shows More Struggling For Basics In PA

In 2017, 1,856,785 households in Pennsylvania — 37 percent — could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology.

A new report from the United Way of Pennsylvania shows that economic recovery reported since the Great Recession has been uneven, and more Pennsylvania households could not afford to meet basic needs a decade after the economic downturn.

This ALICE Report for Pennsylvania describes the population called ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — families with income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not high enough to afford basic household necessities or save for the future. With the cost of living higher than what most people earn, ALICE households live in every county in Pennsylvania — urban, suburban, and rural — and they include women and men, young and old, of all races and ethnicities.

Despite recent reports of overall improvement in employment and gains in median incomes, the economic recovery in Pennsylvania since the end of the Great Recession in 2010 has been uneven. Many families continue to face challenges from low wages, depleted savings, and the increasing cost of basic household goods. The total number of Pennsylvania households that cannot afford basic needs increased 14 percent
between 2007 and 2017.

“We are grateful to the United Way for the work that went into this report,” said LAMPa Director Tracey DePasquale. “It will be an invaluable tool to help our congregations, synods and social ministry organizations address poverty in our communities throughout the Commonwealth. It confirms and quantifies what we have been witnessing in our ministries – that the news of economic recovery does not exactly match what is happening in the lives of our parishioners or those whom they are striving to serve. Neither does this picture match what we proclaim as God’s vision for all people.

“We welcome the opportunity this presents to bring our ministries and policymakers together in every part of Pennsylvania for genuine conversation, learning and action to create an economy that values and works for all,” DePasquale said.

The ALICE Report is posted on the LAMPa web site in the Economic Justice part of Issues. Read the full report.

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