Official Poverty Statistics
from the Current Population Survey

Image of Official Poverty Statisticsclick to enlarge

The official poverty statistics, which have been in use since the 1960s, calculate poverty status by comparing a family’s or an individual’s cash income to their poverty threshold.  If a family’s total income is less than the family’s threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty.

The Census Bureau produces annual reports providing numbers and rates of people in poverty with select breakdown by demographic and socio-economic characteristics.

Frequency and Timespan: Annual data available from 1959 to the present

Geographic Level of Coverage: National with some regional breakdowns

Publications and Tables are available online

Source: U.S. Census Bureau. Poverty (PDF)  Accessed 2/13/2012

For additional information, see also our FAQ: How is poverty measured in the United States?