Tuesday, 25 February 2020 14:10

Report: 34% of Monroe County employed but struggling

Highlights:

  • ALICE refers to three descriptors of people who aren’t in poverty, but still have difficulty covering all basic needs: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
  • The ALICE measure is necessary because the Federal Poverty Level “is no longer a realistic measure of financial hardship in households across each county in the U.S.,” the report said.
  • Barrett Township "ALICE" rate is 54 percent

 

Editor's Note:
This article mentions the "low unemployment" rate but don't let the numbers fool you: a person is only considered unemployed if they are actively seeking work.  If they haven't applied for a job in a given period of time, they are no longer considered "unemployed" but rather "outside the labor force."  This is how they are able to say that the unemployment rate is so low.  

 

Original Article:

About one-third of Monroe County households are above the poverty line, yet earn less money than the local cost of living.

Between that and the 7 percent of Monroe County households in poverty, 41 percent of all households struggle to some degree to meet basic expenses, according to the United Way of Pennsylvania’s 2019 ALICE report. (The data in the report is from 2017.)

What is ALICE?

ALICE refers to three descriptors of people who aren’t in poverty, but still have difficulty covering all basic needs: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

The ALICE measure is necessary because the Federal Poverty Level “is no longer a realistic measure of financial hardship in households across each county in the U.S.,” the report said.

The FPL itself has increased over the years, but the way it is determined hasn’t changed since 1974. That means it is based on old assumptions about what takes up space in a household budget, rather than reflecting four and a half decades of economic change. For example, “food now takes up less of the family budget, and housing takes up more,” the report said.

The ALICE threshold varies by county and is based on what the United Way calls the Household Survival Budget: “the minimal cost of the six basic household necessities — housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a basic smartphone plan.”

That budget doesn’t include holiday or birthday gifts, unexpected car repairs or medical bills, or the ability to save any money.

To demonstrate how unexpected expenses can throw an ALICE household into debt, the United Way of Pennsylvania offers on its website “ALICE: The Experience,” a game in which players attempt to pay bills on time and remain happy while dealing with unbudgeted expenses such as root canals, car repairs, and new work clothes. (“The holes and stains are just too numerous,” the game explains.)

Who is in the ALICE category?

It could be any sort of person: “Contrary to some stereotypes, ALICE households are young and old, comprised of all race/ethnicities and educational levels, may or may not have children, and live in cities, suburbs, and rural areas,” the report said.

According to the report, people in the ALICE category “primarily hold jobs in occupations that build and repair our infrastructure and educate and care for the workforce.”

Though the unemployment rate is low, “Pennsylvania faces an economy dominated by low-paying jobs,” the report said. Of the 10 most common jobs in Pennsylvania, only one had a median hourly wage above $20 in 2017: registered nurses at $32.80.

Monroe County

In Monroe County, the survival budget is $25,176 for a single adult and $54,972 for a family of two adults and two school-age children. (The numbers for other household configurations are available here: bit.ly/2vVQM1i)

The combined ALICE and poverty rate was above 50 percent in every borough in Monroe County: Delaware Water Gap, 51 percent; East Stroudsburg, 56 percent; Mount Pocono Borough, 63 percent; Stroudsburg, 64 percent.

For townships, the combined rate ranged from 31 percent in Hamilton Township to 54 percent in Barrett Township.

Monroe County’s median household income was a bit higher than the Pensylvania average in 2017 — $61,612 vs. $59,195 — but so was the unemployment rate, which was 7 percent compared to 5.3 percent across the state.

Surrounding counties

In Pike County, 9 percent of households are below the poverty line and 26 percent are below the ALICE threshold, for a total of 35 percent.

Here are the rates in additional surrounding counties: Carbon, 11 percent below poverty, 32 percent below ALICE, 43 percent combined; Lackawanna, 15 percent below poverty, 25 percent below ALICE, 40 percent combined; Luzerne, 13 percent below poverty, 27 percent below ALICE, 40 percent combined; Northampton, 9 percent below poverty, 30 percent below ALICE, 39 percent combined; Wayne, 11 percent below poverty, 30 percent below ALICE, 41 percent combined.

Statewide, 24 percent of households were in the ALICE category and 13 percent were in poverty in 2017.

[source]

Last modified on Tuesday, 25 February 2020 14:43
Nate

Disclaimer: The ideas expressed below are the personal thoughts and opinions of Nate Covington and do not necessarily reflect the position of Barrett Township or the Board of Auditors.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

twitter.com/natecovington

Add comment


Latest Comments

Call for Donations

We rely on donations to keep this site ad-free. Will you give today?

Are you ready?

ready-logo
ready.gov

Prepare for a disaster in 3 easy steps:
In an emergency, knowing what to do is your best defense. Start now by learning the risks, making an emergency plan and getting involved to help others.
[Read More at ReadyPA.org]

You may also be interested in joining our Local Community Watch


Are you drinking clean water?
If you're not sure, get your water tested by a local, accredited lab.

 

Featured

Support Local Businesses!

  • Adventure Center at Skytop Lodge
    Adventure Center at Skytop Lodge Open to the public! Paintball, kayaking, laser tag, climbing, wilderness survival, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, geocaching, shooting gallery...
  • PA Liquor Store - Cresco, PA
    PA Liquor Store - Cresco, PA Located next to First Keystone Community Bank on Route 390 & Price's Drive
  • Mountainhome Candles
    Mountainhome Candles Mountainhome Candle, LLC & Mountainhome Wicker & Gifts
  • Pocono Treasures
    Pocono Treasures Antiques and Collectibles from All ErasLocated in the big red bar across from Callie's Pretzel Factory.Hundreds of New Items Weekly Jan - March: Open Friday…

Latest