More than 1.3 million households in New Jersey can't afford a basic monthly budget that includes food, housing, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to data released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project.

According to the project — which was launched 10 years ago by the United Way of Northern New Jersey — 41 percent of New Jersey's households are either living in poverty or as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

The 974,480 ALICE households in the Garden State earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it takes "to survive in the modern economy."

"ALICE is our cashier, our home health aide, security guard, mover, office clerk," said Stephanie Hoopes, director of the project. "We run into ALICE 10 times a day. Some of us have been ALICE and we certainly all have ALICE in our families."

The project notes these households are typically one emergency away from poverty.

Comparing 2016 household costs to incomes, the analysis cited 50.8 million U.S. households living under the ALICE threshold — a rate of 43 percent.

“For too long, the magnitude of financial instability in this country has been understated and obscured by misleading averages and outdated poverty calculations,” said John Franklin, president of the project and CEO of United Way of Northern New Jersey. “It is morally unacceptable and economically unsustainable for our country to have so many hardworking families living paycheck to paycheck. We are all paying a price when ALICE families can't pay the bills.”

Twenty-nine states posted a higher ALICE rate than New Jersey's. The rate is higher than 30 percent in all 50 states, and the number of ALICE households is larger than the number of households in poverty in every state.

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