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More than 38% of Northeast Florida residents struggle to make ends meet despite growth in wages

May 22, 2024

This new ALICE data also shows significant disparities in the rates of financial hardship


Jacksonville, Fla. (May 22, 2024) — More than a third of Northeast Florida households continue to struggle to make ends meet, according to the latest ALICE report from United Way of Northeast Florida and its research partner United For ALICE. Though wages for the lowest-paying jobs in Florida continue to rise, 38.7% of households in Northeast Florida are living paycheck to paycheck or in poverty.

Based on 2022 U.S. Census data, these calculations include more than 72,000 Northeast Florida households in poverty as well as more than 187,000 families defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE families earn above the Federal Poverty Level but less than the basic cost of living for their community. ALICE families are typically those working one or more low-wage jobs with little or no savings and are often overlooked and undercounted by traditional poverty measures.

Additionally, ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in Florida reveals deep racial disparities in the rates of financial hardship with 51% of Black households and 44% of Hispanic households in Northeast Florida below the ALICE threshold compared to 34% of white households. Age is also a factor in financial hardship, with 63% of individuals under age 25 and 49% of people over age 65 struggling to make ends meet. Northeast Florida includes the data from Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties.

“Even now on the other side of an economically devastating pandemic, we’re seeing families continue to struggle, with rent assistance, utility assistance and food often being the top needs,” said Melanie Patz, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “While we saw some improvement in financial hardship numbers compared to last year, we know the increase in wages is not keeping pace with higher costs of living, especially in our region of Florida, which is seeing tremendous population growth.”

ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in Florida shows, in 2022, household costs in every county in Florida were well above the Federal Poverty Level of $13,590 for a single adult and $27,750 for a family of four.

In Northeast Florida, the annual ALICE Household Survival Budget for a family of four was $84,612 in 2022. Compounding these 2022 numbers was the loss of up to $15,000 in federal child tax credits and stimulus payments that families had access to in 2021. The Household Survival Budget reflects the minimum cost to live and work in the region and includes housing, childcare, food, transportation, health care, a smartphone plan and taxes. It does not include savings for emergencies or future goals like college or retirement.

“Our job at United Way is to help our community reach its full potential, and we cannot do this work alone,” said Patz. “Through our 211 helpline, we hear every day from families who, despite working hard at often multiple jobs, can’t seem to get ahead. We are working with partners to help these families achieve stability, and we are hopeful through the support of our generous donors, unwavering partnerships and forward-thinking community leaders, we can build that community of opportunity we all dream of.”

Last November, United Way announced a total of $10 million investment in affordable housing following its initial $1 million announcement in home preservation in January 2023. While we know this investment alone will not solve our housing crisis and there’s more work underway and to be done, this $10 million commitment will make a significant difference in home repairs, heirs’ rights issues, infill development and nonprofit capacity-building. So far, 40 homes have been repaired in North Riverside and on the Historic Eastside and 50 heirs’ rights issues resolved across Duval County.

Additionally, United Way continues to develop and invest in programs and initiatives that improve economic mobility across Northeast Florida in the areas of basic needs and financial well-being. As part of this work, United Way recently launched a Racial Equity Microgrant initiative to address disparities through innovative partnerships with community groups, nonprofits and grassroots entities focused on youth development. Grant winners will be announced soon.

To help support this work and United Way’s overall work in improving lives in Northeast Florida, donations of any size are welcome at unitedwaynefl.org/give or by emailing giving@nulluwnefl.org.

For more information on United Way, to read the full ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in Florida report, and to access the interactive ALICE data dashboards, click here. United Way also offers an interactive, educational “Meet ALICE Experience” to help raise awareness of the ALICE population. To learn more about this experience and/or to speak to United Way leadership about the report, contact Sarah Henderson, vice president of marketing and communications, at sarahh@nulluwnefl.org.


About United Way of Northeast Florida

Celebrating 100 years of serving and uniting our community, United Way of Northeast Florida has earned a reputation as a respected and efficient philanthropic organization. United Way envisions a community of opportunity where everyone has hope and can reach their full potential. The organization’s mission is to solve Northeast Florida’s toughest challenges by connecting people, resources and ideas. United Way focuses on improving economic mobility in the following impact areas: basic needs, financial well-being and racial equity. The nonprofit organization’s long tradition of addressing the human-service needs in Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties is made possible through the commitment of thousands of volunteers, donors and community partners. To learn more, visit unitedwaynefl.org or follow United Way of Northeast Florida on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and X, formerly known as Twitter.


About United For ALICE

United For ALICE is a U.S. research organization driving 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 31 states and includes United Ways, corporations, nonprofits and foundations in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Washington, D.C., West Virginia and Wisconsin; we are United For ALICE. For more information, visit: UnitedForALICE.org.