United Way’s new ALICE® report sheds light on Hudson Valley households that were one emergency away from financial ruin, before COVID-19

Even before COVID-19 hit, 38% of Hudson Valley households were already one emergency away from financial ruin, setting the stage for an unprecedented economic crisis in the Hudson Valley for the next several years, according to the latest state ALICE® Report released by United Way of New York State. On Thursday, August 13, at 11:00am, three Hudson Valley United Ways (United Way of Westchester and Putnam, United Way of Rockland and United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region) will present a virtual workshop on ALICE® 2020 in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties. To sign up for the workshop, go to www.uwwp.org/alice2020. For more information on ALICE, go to www.uwdor.org/NYS-ALICE.

ALICE® stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but less than they need to afford a basic survival budget. There is no room in their household budgets for emergency expenses.  

The 2020 ALICE® report shows the Hudson Valley’s low-income families systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the cost of essentials outpaced wages. Meanwhile, the number of jobs that provide a living wage did not keep pace with the state’s population. The result was that 273,609 of the Hudson Valley’s 723,177 households in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), a large number even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is showing critical areas of need for our economy, health care system, and education capacity during a national crisis. No one is immune to its direct or indirect effects, but ALICE families are particularly vulnerable to hardship from both illness and economic disruption,” said Brenda Episcopo, President and CEO of United Way of New York State, who commissioned the report. Episcopo will be a featured guest during the Virtual Workshop on ALICE® in the Hudson Valley.

The report calls for stakeholders across all sectors to use its findings to remove obstacles to financial stability, identify gaps in community resources and build data-driven solutions to help ALICE families achieve economic stability, bolstering the state’s economy overall.  

“The 2020 ALICE® NY Report provides a reliable baseline of pre-COVID ALICE households to best direct resources,” explained Tom Gabriel, President and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. 

Dana Treacy, President and CEO of United Way of Rockland added, “This report shows that ALICE households did not recover from the last economic recession, even though the economy improved.” 

“We can use this information to ensure we don’t leave ALICE behind again as we recover from the current economic and health crisis,” Jeannie Montano, President and CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region, concluded. “Each United Way offers key resources for those living paycheck to paycheck, including our 24/7 2-1-1 Helpline and the FamilyWize prescription discount program.” 

The most recent ALICE report shows that over the last few years, New York and the Hudson Valley’s economy rebounded and the state made investments to assist those living in poverty. However, there is still a large number of Hudson Valley residents who lack sufficient income and resources to pay for housing, food, child care, transportation, and health care. The report continues to show that ALICE lives in every part of our region, from our largest cities to our most rural areas. 

Using data from the census and a number of economic studies produced in 2018, The 2020 New York ALICE report shows that: 

·       Between 2007 and 2018, the percent of households in poverty and living as ALICE in Hudson Valley remained stable, with small changes in each county, in contrast to the statewide trend, where the percentage of ALICE households increased from 23% in 2007 to 31% in 2018. 

·       To meet the ALICE threshold for survival, a Hudson Valley 4-person household (two adults, two children in care) needs an average annual income of $99,242.40 or $49.62 per hour. 

·       An individual living in the Hudson Valley needs an average annual income of $35,510.40 or $17.76 per hour, to meet the household survival budget. 

·       Economic data show that the number of low-wage jobs increased by 33% from 2007 to 2018 and accounted for the largest number of jobs in New York in 2018. 

·       All but one of New York’s 62 counties has 30 percent or more households earning less than what is needed to afford a basic household budget. 

The report debuts a new measurement called the ALICE Essentials Index. This Index chronicles how the cost of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and a smartphone plan rose at nearly twice the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.  

“The ALICE Essentials Index shows that, through no fault of their own, ALICE families have been priced out of economic stability, setting the stage for the scope of this crisis,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “Using the Consumer Price Index alone to measure inflation provides an incomplete picture of the cost of living, severely underestimating the mounting financial pressures on ALICE families.” 

To read a copy of the report and find county-by-county and town-level data on the size and demographics of ALICE as well as the community conditions and costs faced by ALICE households in the Hudson Valley, visit www.UnitedForALICE.org/New-York

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About The ALICE Report for New York

The ALICE Report for New York was sponsored in part by Key Bank; CSEA, AFSCME Local 1000, AFL-CIO; NBT Bank and 34 Local United Ways and is a project of United For ALICE, a grassroots movement of some 650 United Ways in 21 states, corporations and foundations, all using the same methodology to document financial need. ALICE Reports provide county-by-county and town-level data, and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence. 
www.UnitedForALICE.org/New-York

  

About United For ALICE

United For ALICE is a driver of innovation, shining a light on the challenges ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households face and finding collaborative solutions. Through a standardized methodology that assesses the cost of living in every county, this project provides a comprehensive measure of financial hardship across the U.S. Equipped with this data, ALICE partners convene, advocate, and innovate in their local communities to highlight the issues faced by ALICE households and to generate solutions that promote financial stability. The grassroots movement represents United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org