ALICE-Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed

The ALICE Report in Pennsylvania

28% or 1.4 million hard-working Pennsylvania households have incomes that exceed the federal poverty level but are not high enough to pay for their basic needs. When you add in households that live below the federal poverty level, that's nearly 2 million, or 40% of 5.2 million Pennsylvania households who are struggling to survive. 

Meet ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE lives in every county in Pennsylvania — rural, urban, and suburban — and is vital to our economy. And yet, ALICE is walking a financial tightrope, living paycheck to paycheck and often struggling just to afford the bare-bones essentials. 

In York County, 25% of households live below the ALICE threshold. With no savings and already unable to afford basic necessities, already fragile ALICE households are now facing the unprecedented economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lost wages or tips, disruptions to child care and school-based support, increased medical bills, and school/business closures can all impact ALICE households. In 2019, 1,902,886 households in Pennsylvania were below the ALICE threshold, by 2022 that number has gone up to 2,151,647

The ALICE Household Survival Budget is an estimate of the minimal total cost of household essentials. Household essentials include housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology, plus taxes and a miscellaneous contingency fund equal to 10% of the budget.

It does not include savings, auto repairs, cable service, travel, laundry costs, or amenities such as holiday gifts or dinner at a restaurant.

The survival budget illustrates just how far off the Federal Poverty Line has moved from the actual cost of living. The ALICE Household Survival Budget seeks to set a more reasonable minimum for the cost of living. It is still a no-frills budget. For example below, you can see that in York County, the Survival Budget only includes $1,024 for housing for a family of four.

We want to move households from the Survival Budget to Financial Stability.

Household Survival Budget for a Family of 4



United Way of York County is helping bridge the gap for financially struggling families with short-term support and also helping build a path to self-sufficiency for the future. Impactful long-term solutions through the United Way of York County Impact Fund and our Partner Agencies focus on: 

  • Affordable and accessible high-quality childcare. 
  • Basic needs support, including housing and food. 
  • The statewide PA 211 health and human services helpline connects people in need with resources that can help.


What is the ALICE Report?


United Way of York County values a research-based approach to understanding the needs of the communities it serves. The ALICE Report provides hard data to shed light on what it takes to provide for a household since the COVID-19 pandemic began in York County, Pennsylvania, and across the nation.
ALICE in Pennsylvania holds the most recent report which was released in May 2024.