ALICE Report: 40% of Lackawanna and Wayne County Residents Cannot Afford Household Basics

New United Way of PA Report Sheds Light on Financial Hardships
Scranton,  Pa. (June 18, 2019) – The United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties  along with United Way of Pennsylvania and regional partners, today released a report that shows that 1.2 million Pennsylvania households earn more than the federal poverty level but still not enough to pay for essentials such as housing, food, transportation and child care. When the number of households that live below the federal poverty level are added, the result is 1.8 million, or 37 percent, of Pennsylvania households are struggling to survive. In Lackawanna and Wayne Counties, the numbers are even higher with more than 40 percent of the households in our community struggling to survive financially.
The ALICE® report, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, is an initiative of the Pennsylvania network of United Ways to raise awareness of the challenges faced by working families and to mobilize organizations and individuals who want to support strategies and policies that move ALICE along their journey to financial stability. 
“Our United Way is committed to understanding the communities we serve. With our numerous partners and innovative initiatives such as our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Educational Tax Credits and Scholarships, Gift of Warmth and State and Federal Aid programs and more, we've already been working to address the needs of ALICE in our community. However, the data from the ALICE Report will help everyone better understand who ALICE is, where ALICE lives, and the struggles ALICE faces,” said Gary Drapek, president and CEO of United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties. “Now that we have a better understanding of the struggles ALICE  faces, we will come together to help ALICE take steps toward lasting financial stability.” 
UWP’s report defines the cost of a bare-minimum household budget for each county in the state. Referred to as the survival budget, it is not sustainable, but is a more realistic measure than the federal poverty level. Any Pennsylvanian who is not earning enough to afford the survival budget is ALICE®. Even those who earn more than the cost of the household survival budget are at risk, and the ALICE stability budget is a representation of a sustainable family budget in the modern economy, with a few extras and a 10-percent savings commitment every month.
Additional data highlights revealed by the research include:
  • 25 percent of Lackawanna County households and 30 percent of households in Wayne County are ALICE. When adding the number of households who fall below federal poverty guidelines, those number rise to around 40 percent in both counties.
  • In Lackawanna County, 22 of the 40 municipalities have 30 percent or more households at or below the ALICE threshold. In Wayne County, all but one of the 26 municipalities have 30 percent or more households are at or above the ALICE threshold.
  • Seventy-five percent of Pennsylvania’s 2,408 county subdivisions, with available data, have more than 30 percent of households living at an income below the ALICE survival threshold.
  • Only three of Pennsylvania’s top 20 largest-employing occupations pay enough to support the average Pennsylvania family’s household survival budget.
  • The national inflation rate from 2007-2017 was 22 percent, but the cost of the bare-minimum family budget increased by 33 percent, and the bare minimum single adult budget by 26 percent over that same time period. During that 10-year period, Pennsylvanians' median income increased by only 20 percent.
“ALICE  represents a lot of hard-working people in Lackawanna and Wayne Counties who are essential to our region’s economy. ALICE can be a child care worker, nursing assistant, office worker or retail associate. Our communities would not thrive without the contributions of ALICE and it is incumbent upon us to work together for solutions for ALICE in our community,” Mr. Drapek noted.
The Lackawanna and Wayne Counties ALICE reports, the full ALICE in Pennsylvania report, an interactive map, the ALICE  experience, and more are available at
About United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties
Since 1921, the United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties (UWLWC) has worked with individuals, organizations, foundations and corporate partners to build a healthy, vibrant and caring community in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Together, we fight for a quality education for all area youth that leads to graduation, stable employment and steady, sufficient income to support a family’s economic mobility while enjoying good physical and mental health at all ages—with a solid safety net in times of crisis. Where gaps exist in education, financial stability or health, we distribute funds to programs helping to address the root causes of those issues or create innovative initiatives and develop collaborative partnerships that do. For the 7th consecutive year, UWLWC has earned Charity Navigator’s highest possible 4-star rating for demonstrating strong financial health, accountability and transparency, placing us in the top five percent of charities in the country and number one among United Ways in Pennsylvania. To learn more, please visit
Gary Drapek, President and CEO
United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties / 570.343-1267 x224
Nikki Keller, Vice President of Community Impact Marketing
United Way of Lackawanna and Wayne Counties / 570.343-1267 x237