New Poverty Measure broadens understanding
November 7, 2011
This morning, the Census Bureau released a report today about the “Supplemental Poverty Measure”.
The Census Bureau measures the number of Americans who live below the poverty threshold (not to be confused with the USDA measurement of food-insecure Americans). This measurement has been around since 1969 and is based on income. There has been little change to how this number is measured since it was introduced.
This new report examines poverty but income is only one factor in determining the poverty threshold. Other factors include, benefits from federal programs and nondiscretionary expenses including income tax, out-of-pocket medical expenses, child care and child support.
Overall poverty increased from 15.2% to 16.0% for the overall population under this new model. The most noticable increase was among seniors – that number went from 9.0% to 15.9%!
Most seniors have higher medical expenses than the rest of the population. We have seen in our own studies including Hunger in America 2010 and Food Banks: Hunger’s New Staple that many older Americans have to choose between medicine and food. When you factor in medical expenses, the poverty rate dramatically increases.
See below the breakdown by age of poverty thresholds using the official number and the Supplemental Poverty number.
From The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure 2010; U.S. Census Bureau
Have to say, that seeing this kind of research – I still stand by my previous “I am scared to retire” blog post.
Read more about the Census Bureau’s report.