2018 UW NYS ALICE Report


New Yorkers Still Face Financial Hardship Despite Increases in Employment and Median Income 

Updated ALICE® Report Released by United Way of New York State Reveals Continued Economic Hardship for Working Class New Yorkers

Despite an overall improvement in employment and gains in median household income, the economic recovery in New York State has been uneven, according to an updated report released by United Way of New York State. The 2018 ALICE Report released today, details how a large number of New Yorkers, 3.2 million households, or 45% of the overall population, cannot afford basic needs and lack sufficient income and resources to pay for housing, food, child care, transportation and health care.

The United Way ALICE Report provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of a population called ALICE — an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.  ALICE is a hardworking member of the community and earns above the federal poverty level, yet does not earn enough to afford a bare-bones household budget, or “household survival budget.” The Report examines how households across the state have fared since the Great Recession ended in 2010.
New York State released its first ALICE Report in 2016 and today released an updated report, which shows that many ALICE households continue to face challenges from low wages, reduced work hours, depleted savings, and increasing costs of living. Since 2016, increases in the cost of living have pushed nearly 30,000 households below the ALICE Threshold, defined in the report as the “average income that a household needs to afford the basic necessities defined by the household survival budget for each county in New York.”
In addition, the Report finds that ALICE households are not benefitting financially from seemingly positive economic trends. While there has been significant job growth in some areas (i.e. home health aides, teachers aides, personal care aides, retail salesperson), a number of these occupations continue to pay wages that are insufficient to support a basic household survival budget.
"More than four out of 10 working people in New York State live at or below the ALICE survival threshold, sometimes working multiple jobs in attempt to make ends meet," said Ruth Mahoney, Capital Region president and regional retail leader, KeyBank, which was a major sponsor of the ALICE project. "The ALICE Report shines a light on how deep this crisis is, and through KeyBank's support of and partnership with the United Way, we hope to raise awareness and advance dialogue around the understanding that if we want our communities to be stronger, the people who live and work in them need improved pathways to financial stability and the opportunity to thrive."
Other key findings from the updated ALICE Report include: 
  • In order to meet the ALICE Threshold for survival, a 4-person household (2 adults, 1 infant, 1 preschooler), needs an annual income of $68,808 or $34.40 per hour. An individual needs an annual income of $23,148 or $11.57 per hour. This is 7 percent higher for single and 9% higher for the 4-person household compared to the report issued in 2016.  
  • Fifty-one percent of all jobs in NYS pay less than $20/hour or $40,000 annually for full time work.  Even working multiple jobs often does not provide sufficient income to meet the ALICE Threshold.
  • ALICE is everywhere.  All but one of New York’s 62 counties has 30% or more households earning less than what is needed to afford a basic household budget.

New York


Total Below ALICE Threshold


Percent Below ALICE Threshold






Poverty %


Household Survival Budget (Family)


Family wage


Family wagex2


Household Survival Budget (Family) % increase since 2010


Household Survival Budget (Single)


Household Survival  Wage (Single)


Household Survival Budget (Single) % increase since 2010



The United Way ALICE Report uses measures to provide a more accurate picture of financial insecurity at the state, county, and municipal level. Both the cost of living and job opportunities vary greatly across New York State and this breakdown makes those differences readily apparent. Data sources include the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey.

“The success of a community is directly related to the financial stability of its members and the ALICE report raises awareness about a huge but hidden segment of our community that is struggling,” said Brenda Episcopo President of United Way of New York State. “Everyone knows an ALICE. ALICE is your child care worker, your parent on Social Security, the cashier at your supermarket, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk etc… ALICE is essential to our communities’ economic well-being and when ALICE is forced to make difficult choices, the entire community faces consequences.”
United Ways across the state work with many community partners to provide support to ALICE families by assisting with financial literacy, education and workforce readiness on a daily basis. In addition, United Way of New York State hopes that the ALICE Report will shed light on a growing population in New York State and start conversations about how to help more families achieve financial security. Nine United Way chapters in New York are also administering $16 million in state grants to develop new strategies to combat poverty. The United Way’s 2-1-1 information and referral phone number has also assisted more than 400,000 New Yorkers with housing and other human service issues.
ALICE Report 

The 2018 New York ALICE Report was funded by the 38 United Ways in New York State and KeyBank. To read a copy of the report and view state and municipal data on the size and demographics of ALICE households and to learn more about how this financial hardship affects ALICE families and our communities, go to https://www.unitedwayalice.org/new-york

To view a short synopsis of ALICE in New York, click here.

To view and download the previous New York ALICE Report (2016), click here. 


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