Despite Bigger Paychecks, Struggling Households in West Virginia

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New ALICE Update shows wage growth was no match for inflation
Though wages for the lowest paid jobs have risen across the country at the fastest rate in four
decades, the number of households struggling to get by in West Virginia grew by more than 4,355
from 2021 to 2022. As a result, a total of 720,668 households or 48% were living paycheck to
paycheck, according to a new Update from United Way of Southern WV and its research partner
United For ALICE.
That calculation includes the 123,486 West Virginia households in poverty as well as another 220,759
defined as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), earning above the Federal
Poverty Level but less than what’s needed to survive in the current economy. ALICE workers include
child care providers, home health aides and cashiers — those working low-wage jobs, with little or no
savings and one emergency from poverty.
ALICE in the Crosscurrents: An Update on Financial Hardship in West Virginia shows that while wages
were increasing, so too were costs. For a family of four with an infant and a preschooler, the basic costs
to live and work in West Virginia, excluding tax credits, rose from $62,124 in 2021 to $74,628 a year
The findings in this one-year period are consistent with a more than decade-long trend: Since the end of
the Great Recession, despite some ups and downs, the number of ALICE households in West Virginia
has been steadily growing. From 2010 to 2022, the total number of households fell by 3%, households
in poverty decreased by 4% — and the number of ALICE households grew by 13%.
“The data is showing persistent and widespread financial hardship,” said Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D.,
United For ALICE National Director. “Current policy has not been enough to break down the barriers
that trap ALICE households in financial hardship, from lack of access to housing and child care that’s
affordable, to inadequate community support such as broadband internet.”

United Way of Southern WV
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Beckley, WV 25801
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“Inflation has trapped ALICE households and created a greater number of those households struggling
to make ends meet.”, said Trena Dacal, Executive Director of United Way of Southern West Virginia.
Additional insights include:
● From 2010 to 2022, people aged 65 and over made up the fastest-growing age group in West
Virginia — and the group with the largest increase (21%) in the number of households
struggling to make ends meet.
● Racial disparities persisted in the rates of financial hardship; 62% of Black households in West
Virginia were either in poverty or ALICE in 2022, compared to 47% of white and 44% of
Hispanic households.
● Food assistance continued to elude many vulnerable families in West Virginia. Partly due to
the SNAP income eligibility level in the state (200% of the Federal Poverty Level), only 52% of
all West Virginia households in poverty and 21% of all ALICE households participated in SNAP
in 2022.
To read the Update and access online, interactive dashboards that provide data on financial hardship
at the state, county and local levels, visit
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 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: