A report recently released by the United Way shows that more than one third of Bradford County households are struggling to meet basic needs.
The report focuses on ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households and how they have changed over time, providing outlooks from the national to municipal levels as part of an effort to raise awareness of these financial challenges and to build support to help those who are struggling achieve financial stability.
The report explains that those considered within the ALICE threshold are those “that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county.”
“The Pennsylvania United Way network wants the 2019 ALICE Report to enhance our understanding of the barriers that exist for those who work hard every day but aren’t achieving their American dream,” said Kristen Rotz, president of the United Way of Pennsylvania in a letter to the community. “We want to call all those who care about ALICE to action. Help United Way lay the bricks that will become the path to financial stability for more low-income, working Pennsylvanians.”
In both 2010 and 2014, 25% of households were within the ALICE threshold, with the rate dipping to 20% in 2012. In 2017, the most recent year of reporting, 27% of households were considered in ALICE. Meanwhile, 13% of households were in poverty for 2010 and 2012, and decreased by one percentage point for 2014 and 2017.
The municipality with the highest percentage of ALICE and poverty households was North Towanda Township, with 57%, while the highest number of households was in Sayre Borough with 2,559.
According to the report, costs for Pennsylvania families increased by 22% between 2010 and 2017, but only went up 12% nationally. The report also noted that smaller businesses, which can be more prevalent in rural areas, pay less and offer less stability.
“Millions of us go to work every day, but struggle to afford basic necessities for ourselves and our families. 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,” said Rotz. “We are frustrated because the everyday financial tightrope we walk means we can’t achieve our goals of saving for retirement, furthering our education, moving closer to work, buying our first home, or replacing our used car with a more reliable vehicle.”
Statewide, 27.3% of households were in the ALICE threshold while 12.3% were in poverty.
ALICE reports were compiled for 20 participating states across the country.