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51 Million Families in the US Can Barely Afford Food or Rent, Study Shows

Fifty-one million. 

That’s the number of US households struggling to pay each month for basic amenities, such as food, rent, cell phone bills, child care, and health care, according to a new study from the United Way ALICE Project. 

The study, released Thursday, classified 34.7 million American households above the poverty line but below “middle class” as “ALICE,” which stands for “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.” It also revealed that 16.1 million households are below the federal poverty line, CNN Money reports.  

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“Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem,” project director Stephanie Hoopes told CNN. 

The study, which collected 2016 economic data from every state, also found that an estimated two-thirds of Americans make less than $20 per hour, Axios reports. Poverty levels, as measured by ALICE, were highest in California, New York, and Florida — with high levels also persisting in several southern states, including Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi. 

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It confirms a troubling trend of middling economic prospects for many Americans — 3 in 5 of whom lack enough savings to pay $1,000 in the case of an emergency

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While the number of people who live below the federal poverty line actually decreased by 0.8% between 2015 and 2016, the ALICE study shows how much work there still is to be done to address the hidden side of poverty in the US. 

ALICE, for its part, suggests several ways individuals and institutions alike can raise awareness of financial hardship in the United States, including: lobbying political representatives and speaking out about financial hardship statistics on social media; employers offering products and benefits to employees that reduce financial stress; and educational institutions taking ALICE statistics into consideration during their admissions process.  

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and no poverty is goal number one. You can join us and take action here