Report: 30% of Franklin County Households Struggling to Survive

New United Way report sheds light on financial hardships of Pennsylvania residents.

United Way of Franklin County, along with other United Ways across the state, released a report that shows 30% of Franklin County households are struggling to survive. Of these, 12,196 are ALICE® households that earn income above the Federal Poverty Level but are still not making enough to pay for essentials such as housing, food, transportation and child care.

ALICE provides vital services to our community and is the backbone of our economy. Everyone in Franklin County leans on ALICE for support daily; they are our child care workers, nurses, hospitality workers, mechanics, laborers, and retail associates."

The ALICE report, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, is an initiative of the Pennsylvania network of United Ways to raise awareness of the challenges faced by working families and to mobilize organizations and individuals who want to support strategies and policies that move ALICE along their journey to financial stability. The report reveals that 37% of households statewide are struggling to meet basic needs.

“United Way of Franklin County is committed to understanding the populations we serve. For us to create long-lasting community change, we need to address the underlying causes of the most significant local issues that ALICE faces,” said Amy Hicks, executive director of United Way of Franklin County. “ALICE provides vital services to our community and is the backbone of our economy. Everyone in Franklin County leans on ALICE for support daily; they are our child care workers, nurses, hospitality workers, mechanics, laborers, and retail associates. Now that we are aware of the struggles ALICE faces, we must come together to help ensure financial stability for ALICE.”

The ALICE report defines the cost of a bare-minimum household budget for each county in the state. Referred to as the survival budget, it is not sustainable, but is a more realistic measure than the federal poverty level. Any Pennsylvanian who is not earning enough to afford the survival budget is ALICE. Even those who earn more than the cost of the household survival budget are at risk, and the ALICE stability budget is a representation of a sustainable family budget in the modern economy, with a few extras and a 10-percent savings commitment every month.

Additional data highlights revealed by the research include:

  • The Franklin County Household Survival Budget shows a single adult must earn $9.98 hourly wage or $19,968 annually. A household with two adults, one infant, and one preschooler must earn $28.42 hourly wage to meet the survival budget, or $56,844 annually. This survival budget reveals that it costs more than double the U.S. poverty rate of $25,750 for a family of four in Franklin County to afford the essentials. Despite working, ALICE and poverty-level households often need assistance to afford the basic necessities. Even with assistance, many of these households are unable to make ends meet.

  • In Franklin County, the municipalities with the highest percentage of ALICE and poverty-level households are Chambersburg Borough (44%), Fannett Township (40%), Mercersburg Borough (46%), Metal Township (40%), and Waynesboro Borough (51%).

  • The national inflation rate from 2007-2017 was 22 percent, but the cost of the bare-minimum family budget increased by 33 percent, and the bare minimum single adult budget by 26 percent over that same time period. During that 10-year period, Pennsylvanians' median income increased by only 20 percent.

“We all have a vested interest in improving conditions for ALICE. When ALICE can’t afford basics, the costs are high both for these households and the greater community. The data from our ALICE report will help everyone better understand the struggles ALICE faces. Solutions are complex – there are no silver bullets. But, through this work, we have come to understand the real needs of individuals and families in Franklin County,” Hicks noted.

United Way of Franklin County is currently coordinating community conversations and awareness campaigns to further explore ALICE in Franklin County and start discussions on how to develop solutions to move ALICE along their journey to financial stability. United Way aims to collaborate with local business, government, nonprofit, and community members to implement solutions for ALICE. Those interested in getting involved should contact United Way at 717-262-0015.

The full report, fact sheets specific to Franklin County, the ALICE Experience online simulation, and more are available at

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United Way
of Franklin County


Phone: 717-262-0015

Location: 182 S. Second St.

                 Chambersburg, PA 17201

Improving quality of lives by mobilizing the caring power of Franklin County.

We envision a community where all families achieve their potential through healthy living, income stability and early learning.

© 2020 by United Way of Franklin County