South Orange Residents Work, but Struggle to Afford Basics
A new report from United Way calculates the number of struggling working families.
About one in five South Orange households struggles to afford basic necessities, despite having working adults in the home. According to the United Way, New Jersey sees one in three households in the same situation, hard-pressed to pay for "housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation."
United Way released a report, five years in the making, to document the number, location and experiences of New Jersey families who are working, yet "who live each day one crisis away from falling into poverty." The report is known as the ALICE project, which is an acronym for " Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed."
The families studied make more than the official poverty level, but "way less than an individual or family needs to sustain a reasonably healthy standard of living." The cost of basic necessities in Essex County, including housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation, totals $55,036 for a family of two adults, an infant and a toddler. This is more than double the US poverty rate of $22,113.
Essex County has the largest number of households below the "ALICE threshold" in the state. That number has increased since 2010, when previous figures were released. The increase has hit children the hardest, according to the report.
"I love living in New Jersey. When one drives around the state it is hard not to notice the beautiful tree-lined streets, lovely homes, nice cars, and great shopping," wrote John B. Franklin, CEO, United Way of Northern New Jersey, in a prepared statement. "These are all signs of the affluence that surrounds us, but if you look a little closer, scratch the surface and get a deeper glance, you will find ALICE."