Nearly half of Escambia County families struggle paying the bills

United Way of Escambia County yesterday announced that of 118,702 households in Escambia County, about a third struggle to pay for basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology.

Another 12 percent live below the poverty level, much means nearly half of the county’s households are fighting to provide basic needs. Statewide, 46 percent of households face the same financial challenges.

“There is enormous value in this data,” said United Way of Escambia County President & CEO, Laura P. Gilliam. “It really paints an accurate picture of the working families struggling to get by in our community.”

This struggle materializes at a rate of $26.48 per hour – what it takes a household of four in Escambia County to survive the associated costs of living.

These struggling Floridians are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed or ALICE. They are households earning above the poverty line but not enough to cover the most basic of needs like food and housing. Even in affordable communities, across the board increases in everything from child care to health care plague a family’s ability to save or buy a home despite holding down a 40-hour-a-week job.

“The people reflected in this study are working and providing direct services in our community every day, Gilliam stated. “The fact that this population has grown, despite the perceived growth of our community, shows that there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The cost of basic household needs increased steadily, outpacing the rate of inflation and wage growth. The cost for a family of four in Escambia County to meet basic needs rose 6 percent annually and 8 percent monthly, these costs rose 14 percent annually and 14 percent monthly for a single adult.

The biggest drivers of cost increases for families since the end of the recession are health care (14.5 percent and taxes (23 percent).

Florida is one of 18 states that have ALICE reports published. The research is supported in part by the Aetna Foundation, AT&T, Atlantic Health System, Deloitte, Entergy, Johnson & Johnson, KeyBank, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, OneMain Financial, RWJBarnabas Health, Thrivent Financial Foundation, Union Bank &Trust, UPS, and U.S. Venture. 

For town- and county-level ALICE data or to find county-by-county survival and stability budgets for six family sizes, visit