Research Supplemental Poverty Measure
An Alternative Measure of Poverty

 

In 2011, the Census Bureau issued a paper that laid groundwork for developing a new Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) for the United States. 

This paper illustrate differences between the official measure of poverty and a poverty measure that takes account of in-kind benefits received by families and nondiscretionary expenses that they must pay.

The SPM also employs a new poverty threshold that is updated with information on expenses for food, clothing, shelter, and utilities that families face.

The reports on the Supplemental Poverty Measure provide national-level data for 2009 to 2014.  Tables compare the number and percentage of people in poverty using the official and SPM for various demographic and socio-economic groups.

Frequency and Timespan:  Annual data for 2009 to 2014

Geographic Level of Coverage: National with some regional breakdowns

Publications and tables are available online

Sources:
Short, Kathleen, The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010, U.S. Census Bureau,  Current Population Reports, P60-241 (PDF),  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2011.
Short, Kathleen, The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2011, U.S. Census Bureau,  Current Population Reports, P60-244 (PDF),  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2012
Short, Kathleen, The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2012, U.S. Census Bureau,  Current Population Reports, P60-247 (PDF),  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2012
Short, Kathleen, The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013, U.S. Census Bureau,  Current Population Reports, P60-251 (PDF),  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2014. Accessed 10/17/2014
Short, Kathleen, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2014, U.S. Census Bureau,  Current Population Reports, P60-254 (PDF),  U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 2015. Accessed 11/12/2015

 

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?
The two federal poverty measures in the U.S.

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau counts people in poverty with two measures. Both the official and supplemental poverty measures are based on estimates of the level of income needed to cover basic needs. Those who live in households with earnings below those incomes are considered to be in poverty.

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