October 23, 2017

FPI: More Than Four in 10 Florida Families Don't Earn Enough to Afford Necessities, Per New United Way ALICE Report

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

New findings from United Way of Florida provide further evidence that lawmakers must do more to help the state’s working families

LAKE MARY, FL – The Florida Policy Institute (FPI) today pointed to findings in the 2017 United Way ALICE® Report showing that 44 percent of Florida families — 3.3 million — are struggling to make ends meet.

ALICE—which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed—refers to those working residents who live above the federal poverty level yet still have trouble affording housing, food, child care and other necessities of life.

“Many people tend to draw a sharp line in the sand when discussing families living in poverty and working families. The truth is, there are a lot of hard-working Floridians who are one health crisis or car accident away from falling into poverty,” said Joe Pennisi, executive director of FPI. “We applaud United Way of Florida for bringing attention to the very real struggle that so many residents are facing.”

While 14.5 percent of Florida households earn below the federal poverty level (which is $24,250 for a family of four), an additional 29.5 percent earn above this level but fall below the ALICE threshold, which is the average income that a household needs to survive given the cost of basic needs as defined by the ALICE Household Survival Budget. This figure varies from county to county in Florida, from $44,028 in Putnam to $68,952 in Monroe.

The report shows that as the number of Florida households has grown steadily, the propensity of families to fall below the ALICE threshold varies by race and ethnicity. In the period from 2007 to 2015:

  • The number of white households declined by 1 percent, while the proportion of those households living below the ALICE threshold increased from 31 percent to 36 percent.
  • The number of Hispanic households grew by 20 percent, while the percentage of those households living below the ALICE threshold increased from 45 percent to 58 percent.
  • The number of Black households grew by 11 percent, while the percentage of those households living below the ALICE Threshold increased from 51 percent to 60 percent.

“The state must invest in education to prepare the labor force for high-tech jobs of the future, as well as support affordable housing, quality health care, adequate transportation and other services that help to drive economic growth,” added Pennisi.

FPI is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

The Institute provides analysis of state budget and revenue trends and proposes commonsense policy options with the aim of encouraging broad public education, discussion and informed action. The Institute advances fiscal policies that expand economic opportunity for all Florida residents.

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