Almost half of US families can’t afford basics like rent and food, report shows

(CNN) – Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released last week by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43 percent of households in the United States.

The figure includes the 16.1 million households living in poverty, as well as the 34.7 million families that the United Way has dubbed ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. This group makes less than what’s needed "to survive in the modern economy."

"Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem," said Stephanie Hoopes, the project’s director.

Many of these folks are the nation’s child care workers, home health aides, office assistants and store clerks, who work low-paying jobs and have little savings, the study noted. Some 66 percent of jobs in the US pay less than $20 an hour.

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