New research: 73% of PA’s Black Children Lived in Financial Hardship Pre-Pandemic
April 12, 2022
New report and interactive tools reveal that federal poverty data undercounts how many children of all races are growing up amid financial insecurity.
Stroudsburg, PA – The majority of PA’s Black and Hispanic children — 73% and 69% respectively — lived in households that could not afford the basics in 2019, compared to 33% of white children, according to a new report from United Way of Pennsylvania and its research partner United For ALICE.
ALICE in Focus: Children reveals the disproportionate impact of financial hardship on the state’s Black and Hispanic children, while also challenging the reliance on federal poverty guidelines for eligibility for assistance programs. The report finds traditional measures of poverty have severely undercounted the number of children of all races ages 18 and younger in Pennsylvania who are growing up in financially insecure households.
While 17% of all children in the state were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 27% – nearly twice as many – lived in families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy. Combined, 44% of PA’s children lived in households below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, childcare, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.
“Undercounting the number of children who are at risk can have lifelong consequences,” said Michael Tukeva, President and CEO of Pocono Mountains United Way. “Thousands of children are locked out of receiving critical supports for stable housing, food, and quality education, all of which can inhibit healthy child development.”
Because ALICE households often earn too much to qualify for public assistance, the report finds more than 604,000 at-risk children did not access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Children include:
“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”
More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Children interactive data dashboard – which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements and household work status. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Children.
ALICE in Focus: Children is the first installment in the ALICE in Focus Research Series, which draws from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) Public Use Microdata Samples (PUMS). Each installment in the series will highlight a specific segment within the ALICE demographic. Upcoming topics include people with disabilities and veterans.
About Pocono Mountains United Way
Pocono Mountains United Way engages and mobilizes resources to improve lives through accelerated community change. For more information about Pocono Mountains United Way, please visit www.poconounitedway.org.
About United For ALICE
United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, research and action to improve life across the country for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and for all. Through the development of the ALICE measurements, a comprehensive, unbiased picture of financial hardship has emerged. Harnessing this data and research on the mismatch between low-paying jobs and the cost of survival, ALICE partners convene, advocate and collaborate on solutions that promote financial stability at local, state and national levels. This grassroots ALICE movement, led by United Way of Northern New Jersey, has spread to 24 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org.