How costly is it to live in Lebanon County? A 2-parent household must earn at least $47,000 annually to afford basic household necessities: United Way
Lebanon County Christian Ministries serves thousands of individuals and families each year in Lebanon County by providing supplemental food, clothing and heating assistance, and even shelter, to those who cannot afford the basic cost of living.
Nearly 37% of households in Lebanon County lack the income to cover the costs of basic necessities such as food, housing, transportation and child care, according to the United Way of Pennsylvania.
The United Way calls them “ALICE” households — short for “Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed."
ALICE is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget, according to the United Way.
Read the Pennsylvania ALICE report in its entirety.
The United Way's ALICE report outlines the basic household survival budget needed for different family units and for individuals throughout Pennsylvania. Overall, the cost of household basics in the household survival budget - housing, child care, transportation, health care, technology and taxes - increased by 26 percent for a single adult and 33 percent for a family of four in Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2017.
In Lebanon County, a two-parent household with two school-age children needs to earn an hourly wage of $23.50 - that's $47,004 per year- to afford basic necessities. The number is even higher for a two-parent household with an infant and one school-aged child: $30.14 per hour is needed, with a total annual salary of $60,288. A single parent household with one school age child needs to earn at least $14.06 per hour - that's $28,128 per year - to afford basic necessities. For a single adult, an hourly wage of $10.60 is needed, with a total salary of $21,204.
According to the United Way, this budget identifies the minimum cost option for each of the basic household items needed to live and work in today's economy.
These costs continue to outpace the national rate of inflation.
Keep in mind that the household survival budget is is a bare-minimum budget, not a "get ahead budget."
There is no room for things such as being able to afford to cover the cost of cable, automotive or appliance repairs. There is no room in this budget to account for holiday gifts or a new television, for example, nor does it allow for any savings. No savings leaves families vulnerable to unexpected expenses.
By comparison, the United Way developed a Household Stability Budget, which extends beyond the household survival budget. The household stability budget is a measure of how much income is needed to support and sustain an economically viable household, according to the ALICE report.
The ALICE report defines it this way:
"The stability budget represents the basic household items necessary for a household to participate in the modern economy in a sustainable manner over time, with a reasonable quality of life and a measure of future financial security."
In Lebanon County, the household stability budget is moderate in what it includes, yet it still totals $42.35 an hour for a family of four with two school-age children - that's $84,696 a year. It's even more for a family of four with one infant and one school-aged child - $51.70 an hour, totaling $103,404 a year. For a single parent household with one school-aged child, an hourly wage of $24.65 is needed, with a total annual salary of $49,308. For a single adult, they must earn $17.16 an hour, with a total salary of $34,320.