Despite Bigger Paychecks, Struggling Households in Florida Continue to Increase

Black and white photo of people walking along city street holding umbrellas with some umbrellas shaded yellow to highlight how ALICE walks among us

New ALICE Update shows wage growth was no match for inflation after a decade of falling behind

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (May 22, 2024) – 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 Florida grew by more than 189,614 from 2021 to 2022. As a result, a total of 4,056,220 households or 46% were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a new Update from United Way of North Central Florida and its research partner United for ALICE.

That calculation includes the 1,125,129 Florida households in poverty as well as another 2,931,091 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 Florida 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 Florida, excluding tax credits, rose from $80,748 in 2021 to $86,316 a year later. Compounding the issue in 2022 was the loss of up to $15,000 in federal child tax credits and stimulus payments that this family had access to in 2021.

“There is no doubt, bigger paychecks helped, but inflation and the loss of pandemic supports converged to keep ALICE trapped,” said United Way of North Central Florida President and CEO Amber Miller. “This latest data is a reminder that while we have made some progress, our work is far from over.”

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 Florida has been steadily growing. From 2010 to 2022, the total number of households rose by 25%, households in poverty increased by 8% – and the number of ALICE households grew by 27%.

“The data is showing persistent and widespread financial hardship – a red flag that the current system isn’t working for ALICE,” 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 supports such as broadband internet.”

Additional insights include:

  • From 2010 to 2022, people aged 65 and over made up the fastest-growing age group in Florida – and the group with the largest increase (45%) in the number of households struggling to make ends meet.
  • Racial disparities persisted in the rates of financial hardship; 60% of Black and 52% of Hispanic households in Florida were either in poverty or ALICE in 2022, compared to 41% of white households.
  • Food assistance continued to elude many vulnerable families in Florida. Partly due to the SNAP income eligibility level in the state (200% of the Federal Poverty Level), only 36% of all Florida households in poverty and 18% of ALICE households participated in SNAP in 2022.

For households within United Way of North Central Florida’s six-county region, many are faring worse than the state average. A family of four with an infant and a preschooler needed to earn $90,900 in 2022 to meet the ALICE Household Survival Budget in Alachua County while the same family in Dixie County would’ve had to earn $69,600.

2022 Point-in-Time Data


% Poverty

(state average 13%)


(state average 33%)

Total % Below ALICE Threshold

(state average 46%)


























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 Way of North Central Florida fights for the health, education and financial stability of people living in our region and has been a staple in North Central Florida since 1957. We serve a six-county area that includes Alachua, Bradford, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties. Since our inception, we have raised nearly $100 million for the region. Our top priority is to create real social change that leads to better lives and healthier communities for North Central Florida.

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 grassroots ALICE 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: