LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Restaurant workers and those in grocery stores have earned the title of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but new data from the United Way of Pennsylvania shows those workers were essentially forgotten when it comes to making a livable wage.

“ALICE families were financially unstable before the pandemic hit and in many cases the pandemic has only worsened that situation,” Executive Director for United Way of Pennsylvania, Kristen Rotz, said.

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, households are those who work low-wage job, but are above poverty line.

A new ALICE report from the United Way shows right before the pandemic hit almost 40% of Pennsylvania families fell into the ALICE category.

“While there might be some swing based on housing costs in some places the types of struggles we’re seeing are consistent across the state.” Rotz said.

The United Way says ALICE families have never been given the chance to earn economic stability.

Rotz said the impact from the situation is being hardest felt in communities of color.

Rotz also said the COVID-19 pandemic is also contributing to the situation. She said typical ALICE jobs have been cut and may never return.

The United Way is pushing Pennsylvania to enact an earned income tax credit.

Rotz also said they are suggesting more federal help to those in need.

“There’s about $852-million total coming to Pennsylvania for housing assistance and utility assistance,” she said. “The total need will be more than that.”

The United Way estimates that if Pennsylvania modeled an EITC like the federal EITC ALICE households could bring almost an extra $700 a year.