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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Day: November 8, 2011

Supplemental Poverty Measure

  • New model finds more in poverty, By Gale Holland, November 8, 2011, Los Angeles Times: “More than 49 million Americans live in poverty, an increase from previous counts that reflects heavy medical expenses for older people and high housing costs in Western states, especially California, according to new estimates announced Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The estimates, produced by a first-ever experimental recalibration of the federal model of hardship, adds 2.5 million people to the 46.6 million included in the official poverty count for 2010 released in September. Under the new formula, more than 2.8 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor in the Western states, bringing the regional poverty rate up from 15.4% to 19.4%. The national poverty rate in the new report is 16%. Census officials Monday did not break out results by state. But experimental research for 2009 showed California’s poverty rate surging from 15.5% under the old template to 22.4%. Researchers say housing costs were the main cause…”
  • Census Bureau measures more Americans living in poverty, By Michael A. Fletcher, November 7, 2011, Washington Post: “The Census Bureau on Monday released a new, comprehensive poverty measure that painted a more dismal picture of the nation’s economic landscape than the official measure from September. The report found that 49.1 million Americans – 16 percent of the population – lived in poverty in 2010, which is higher than the 46.2 million Americans found to live in poverty by the official measure released in September. The new report marked the culmination of a years-long effort by the Census Bureau to come up with a poverty measure that takes into account the huge amounts of money in social services benefits provided to the needy, as well as their expenses for things such as medical care and payroll taxes…”
  • New Census measure gauges poverty level, By Alfred Lubrano, November 8, 2011, Philadelphia Inquirer: “A new, more accurate way of measuring poverty shows that antipoverty programs are working to keep children from falling into absolute deprivation. The U.S. Census Bureau released a supplemental poverty measure Monday that shows children’s poverty is at lower levels than previously calculated, thanks to food stamps and other programs aimed at helping families survive. ‘It looks like the programs are targeted well at families with children, bringing many up out of poverty,’ said Kathleen Short, the Census Bureau economist who wrote the report. At the same time, the report shows that the number of elderly living in poverty is much higher than previously calculated…”
  • New way to tally poor recasts view of poverty, By Sabrina Tavernise and Robert Gebeloff, November 7, 2011, New York Times: “The Census Bureau on Monday released what it says is a more accurate measure of poverty in America. The new measure shows more poverty among the elderly, but less among children and African-Americans. It also shows a slightly higher poverty rate for the nation last year – 16 percent compared with 15.2 percent under the official measure – but lower rates among groups who benefit from noncash government programs the official count leaves out, including food stamps and the earned-income tax credit. As a result, there were 3.2 million fewer children found to be living in poverty in 2010, compared with the official measure, a difference of about four percentage points, and 800,000 fewer poor African-Americans, or about two percentage points less…”
  • Government introduces new way to count the poor, By Matt O’Brien, November 7, 2011, Contra Costa Times: “The U.S. government on Monday came out with a new way of measuring poverty that finally will take into account the Bay Area’s high cost of housing. The new calculation means that another 2.5 million Americans are counted as poor, bringing that number up to 49.1 million, a sum that is likely to engender significant debate. The new measure finds 16 percent of Americans were poor last year, compared to 15.2 percent using the old measure. Perhaps more important than the numbers, however, are how different groups of people are affected. More elders, West Coasters and Latinos fall below the poverty line using the new calculation; fewer children, Midwesterners and African Americans count as poor…”
  • Census supplemental test: 49.1 million in poverty, By Carolyn Said, November 8, 2011, San Francisco Chronicle: “Who is poor in America? The question has immense relevance in determining programs and policies to help people make ends meet. A new formula released on Monday by the Census Bureau tries to draw a more realistic picture of poverty – and found that it’s more prevalent than ever. A record 49.1 million Americans lived in poverty in 2010, according to the census’ supplemental poverty measure. The new measure considers a range of expenses, including food, shelter, clothing and utilities, and takes into account different sources of income, such as food stamps and housing subsidies. It shows that 16 percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty, the bureau said…”
  • New measure shows higher poverty rate in U.S., By Pam Fessler, November 7, 2011, National Public Radio: “The government released a new experimental poverty measure Monday that found that the poverty rate was 16 percent last year – slightly higher than previously thought. The new measure won’t replace the official one, but it is an effort to get a more accurate picture of who is and isn’t poor. The official poverty measure has long been seen as inadequate. It doesn’t include government benefits that many poor people receive, such as food stamps. It doesn’t look at expenses such as health care or taxes. And it doesn’t account for regional differences in the cost of living, which is why people like Sandra Killett of New York City might feel poor – even though the government says she isn’t…”
  • Poverty may be worse than in ‘official’ count, By Pamela M. Prah, November 8, 2011, “The number of Americans living in poverty totaled 46.2 million in 2010 – or 49.1 million. Both figures come from the federal government. So which number is accurate and why the discrepancy? The ‘official’ poverty rate from the U.S. Census Bureau came out last month and showed 46.2 million people were poor, or 15.1 percent, the largest number in the 52 years the bureau has been estimating poverty rates. But a new ‘supplemental poverty measure’ that Census and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released yesterday showed a higher figure of 49.1 million, or 16 percent. As Stateline reported last year, there have been concerns for decades that the way the federal government comes up with the poverty level, using a process unchanged since 1963, is outdated because it counts only cash income. Advocates for the poor have argued that poverty counts would be much higher if the cost of housing, child care and other expenses, which are currently excluded, were factored in…”