JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than 3.4 million households in Florida are struggling to make ends meet, according to a recent United Way report.
Although there’s been improvements in employment and income, the report found the cost of living is still on the rise and low-wage jobs still dominate the landscape.
The ALICE report is done every two years. ALICE stands for Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained and Employed. The United Way report defined ALICE as the households with an income greater than the Federal Poverty Level but that still have a hard time paying for basic needs.
“For so many of our hardworking families they are one flat tire away, they are one sickness away, they are one emergency away from falling out of the ALICE population into poverty,” explained Phyllis Martin, head of Community Impact and Strategic Investments at the United Way of Northeast Florida.
According to the report, nearly 40 percent of households in Duval County are struggling to afford basic necessities like child care, transportation and housing. Martin said the cost to pay for these needs has gone up compared to the income households are making. For example, Martin said a family of four needs an income of roughly $55,000 to get by.
“The average household budget has increased by 20 percent since the last time we did this report and income has not gone up that amount,” explained Martin. “Housing costs we know have increased over the past several years.”
The report is done to better understand the challenges working households face and find tools to help.
The report lays out several recommendations including providing easy access to credit at low rates to help ALICE workers. The report also suggests employers make paychecks more immediately available rather than waiting every two weeks for pay day.