August 22, 2023

United Way of Pennsylvania

As a part of the ongoing release of this year's ALICE® Report and the associated data, United for ALICE released an updated ALICE Essentials Index on July 10, 2023. When prices increase faster than wages and other sources of income, purchasing power decreases and households struggle to make ends meet. For Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) households, those making above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford basic essentials in the county in which they reside, this presents an even greater challenge.

The ALICE Essentials Index measures the increase over time in the costs of the essential goods and services that households need to live and work in the modern economy. Those goods and services include housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan, key components of the ALICE Household Survival Budget. In comparison, the traditional measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), measures a basket of over 200 goods and services, which dilutes the increase in the cost of basics.

From 2007-2023, the ALICE Essentials Index in Pennsylvania increased by an average rate of 3.1% per year compared to the National CPI, which increased 2.5% annually. From 2007 to 2022, the average wage for a retail salesperson increased 2.5% annually, keeping up with the overall rate of inflation, which fluctuates from year-to-year. However, the sustained lag of wages behind the ALICE Essentials Index equated to a loss of more than $20,300 over the past 15 years for a retail salesperson, almost a full year's wages.

Because the CPI is used to calculate the Federal Poverty Level, and both are used to make policy decisions, there are variety of policy implications. Eligibility for many human services programs is determined by income guidelines based on the federal poverty level. Among those who do receive benefits, their support is diminished over time, resulting in sustained hardship. At the same time, the costs of basic goods and services continue to outpace wages meaning ALICE families will continue to struggle on their quest for financial stability. Accordingly, local United Ways, and United Way of Pennsylvania need to continue our efforts around educating our decisionmakers on the ALICE data, building supports for increased economic mobility, and advocating for public policy change that helps ALICE households make ends meet in their household budget.

Learn More on United for ALICE's Website
ALICE Essentials Index PA State Fact Sheet
Helpful Resources:

PA 211 Back to School Resources

As summer break comes to an end members of our communities may be on the lookout for programs providing backpacks, notebooks, pens, and more!

View a list of school supply programs in the PA 211 database. To search for programs within your area filter by your zip code after clicking the button.

Please contact each program to inquire into current availability, as supplies are limited.

Find School Supplies Near You

Reminder to Sign Up Early for Holiday Programs

Did you know that local holiday gift programs traditionally fill up well before the holiday season?

Now is a good time to start looking into available programs, as most of these will not have availability in November and December.

Search local resources by clicking the button below and filtering by your zip code.

Learn About Holiday Resources Near You

Maui United Way Fire Disaster Relief Fund

The wildfires that struck Maui, Hawaii on August 8 have killed at least 114 people to date. It’s the deadliest wildfire in modern U.S. history, destroying hundreds of homes, businesses and schools, and thousands of acres of land. Officials estimate rebuilding costs will exceed $5 billion.

Maui United Way has launched the Maui Fire Disaster Relief Fund to provide immediate support for those in need of shelter, food, clothes and more. United Way is working with partners on the ground to assess the damage, mobilize resources and lead collaborative efforts to rebuild. Maui United Way has begun issuing direct payments to individuals impacted by the wildfire. If you can donate to help, please consider making your contribution to Maui United Way using the link below.

Donate to Maui United Way's Fire Disaster Relief Fund

PA 211 Presented with AIRS Innovation in Service Delivery Award

PA 211 was presented with the AIRS Innovation in Service Delivery award for the PA 211 chat translation tool, which allows users and resource navigators to chat in their preferred language, using natural language processing to seamlessly translate the interaction. 

The chat translation greatly increases accessibility for users whose primary language is not English and is currently capable of translating over 75 languages! 

Congratulations to our PA 211 Team on this honorable achievement!

Visit our PA 211 Chat 

Support Your Community

Will you help PA communities improve their financial stability, health, and education? Choose to support your local United Way, efforts to improve life for people who work and struggle to survive (ALICE), or our program to connect people to the help they need (PA 211.) Give, advocate, or volunteer today.

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