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?
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.


How does geography relate to poverty?
Data for regional and concentrated poverty

In 2015, poverty rates across the four Census geographic regions ranged from 11.7 percent in the Midwest, 12.4 percent in the Northeast, 13.3 percent in the West and 15.3 percent in the South. Because of the South’s largest share of the total U.S. population, it has the largest number of people who live in poverty compared to any other region.

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.