Despite Bigger Paychecks, Struggling Households in Pickens County Continue to Increase

May 22, 2024

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

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 Pickens County grew by nearly 1,400 from 2021 to 2022. As a result, a total of 27,363 households or 52% were living paycheck to paycheck, according to a new Update from United Way of Pickens County and its research partner United For ALICE.

That calculation includes the 7,914 Pickens County households in poverty as well as another 19,449 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 South Carolina 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 Pickens County excluding tax credits, rose from $60,780 in 2021 to $77,064 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 Pickens County President Julie Capaldi. “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 Pickens County has been steadily growing. From 2010 to 2022, the total number of households rose by 19%, households in poverty increased by 19% — and the number of ALICE households grew by 55%.

“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:

  • In 2022, people aged 25 and under in Pickens County — make up the largest (80%) number of households struggling to make ends meet.
  • Racial disparities persisted in the rates of financial hardship; 66% of Black and 57% of Hispanic households in Pickens County were either in poverty or ALICE in 2022, compared to 49% of white households.

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 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: