Poverty for States and Large Metropolitan Areas
Data from the American Community Survey


Using income and household relationship data from the American Community Surveys (ACS), the Census Bureau provides unofficial estimates of the number and percentage of people in poverty for sub-national levels of geography.

The Bureau produces ACS estimates for the nation, states, and large metropolitan statistical areas. 

Frequency and Timespan: Annual data and averages across mulit-year timespans for 2004-2013

Geographic Level of Coverage: Subnational estimates of income and poverty for all places, counties, and metropolitan areas with a population of at least 65,000 as well as the nation and the states

Publications and Tables available online

U.S. Census Bureau. Description of Income and Poverty Data Source. (PDF) Accessed 2/14/2012

By 2010, the Census Bureau employed optical scanners and computer software were used to convert handwritten questionnaires into electronic data. Photo courtesy U.S. Census Bureau.

How is poverty measured in the United States?
Thresholds, guidelines and other estimates

There are two official measures of poverty created by the U.S. Census Bureau. The poverty guidelines and poverty thresholds are both measures that are intended to identify the level of income necessary to meet basic needs. Both are updated annually.

How does geography relate to poverty?
Official data for region and residence

In 2014, the nation’s official poverty rate was 15%.  The poverty rates by geographic region ranged from 13% to 17%.

What do we know about the geographic concentration of poverty?
Estimates from the American Community Survey


In 2010, 15% of people lived in poverty.  Poverty is not evenly distributed across neighborhoods and every state has neighborhoods with higher than average poverty rates.