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United Way of Northern New Jersey-ALICE in NJ

Our Work » ALICE®

ALICE in New Jersey

ALICE Cover Facebook Twitter Press Facebook Twitter For a growing number of New Jersey households, the struggle to survive has become a way of life. Every day, families make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care and paying the rent.

According to the latest United Way of Northern New Jersey ALICE Report, 1.2 million households in New Jersey are unable to afford the state’s high cost of living. That number includes those living in poverty and the population called ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

ALICE households represent men and women of all ages and races who are working, but unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. They are child care workers, mechanics, home health aides, and office assistants – workers New Jerseyans rely on every day.

Core Statistics

The ALICE study provides county-by-county and town-level data; cost of living calculations for six family size variations; analysis of how many households are living paycheck to paycheck; and the implications for New Jersey’s future economic stability. Here are some of the study’s findings:

  • Nearly 40 percent of New Jersey households (ALICE and poverty) cannot afford the basics of housing, food, transportation, child care, and health care, despite working.
  • There are nearly 890,000 ALICE households in New Jersey, nearly three times the official poverty rate. Together with those in poverty, 1.2 million NJ households are unable to make ends meet.
  • ALICE is men and women, young and old, of all race and ethnicities, closely mirroring the state’s basic demographic make-up.
  • A total of 53 percent of all jobs in NJ pay less than $20 per hour and most pay between $10 and $15 per hour. The jobs forecast shows low-paying jobs dominating the economy into the foreseeable future.
  • Despite working and receiving financial supports, ALICE still faces a 34 percent gap in the income needed to be able to survive and afford the basics in NJ. (Click here to see what it cost to afford the basics in each of New Jersey’s 21 counties.)
  • More than two-thirds (85 percent) of NJ’s 560 towns have 20 percent or more households unable to afford life’s basic necessities.

Percent of Households below the ALICE Threshold by Municipality


What Is United Way of Northern New Jersey Doing For ALICE?

ALICE is a real and significant population; by ignoring ALICE, we risk the future well-being of all our communities. Please join us in raising awareness about ALICE and continuing the dialogue among community leaders about how, together, we can provide ALICE an opportunity to succeed.

We are raising awareness that ALICE not only exists here in New Jersey, but is growing, and that ALICE's struggles affect the economic well-being of all residents. We are shedding light on the underlying causes keeping ALICE from succeeding.

United Way currently works to provide some short-, medium-, and long-term solutions for ALICE, such as:

  • Scholarships to access quality child care, because we know this solid foundation leads to success in both school and life. Learn more about our Education initiatives.
  • Resources for unpaid caregivers, who put their own health and financial stability on the line to care for loved ones. Learn more about our Health initiatives.
  • Free tax preparation, alleviating costly fees for ALICE and bringing hard-earned money back into the economy. Learn more about our Income initiatives.

There is no one "silver bullet" that will make the difference. However, through the United Way ALICE Report, we have provided a nonpartisan tool that business, government, nonprofits, the faith-based community and residents can use to work together to improve conditions for ALICE and all residents.

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