Census Bureau Develops Supplemental Poverty Measure

Mar 5, 2010

NASW was pleased with the announcement yesterday that the Census Bureau has created a supplemental poverty measure. The measure will use the best new data and methodologies to obtain an improved understanding of the economic well-being of American families and of how federal policies affect those living in poverty.

The current poverty level is determined by a family’s cash income and the cost of food. Since food has become a smaller share of a family’s income, it has become outdated. The supplemental poverty measure takes into account more variables such as location, housing, medication, utilities and child care.

The supplemental poverty measure does not replace the existing poverty measure, which will still be used to determine program eligibility for programs like SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

The National Academies of Science have long advocated an alternative poverty measure. A report released in 1995 called for an alternative poverty measure.

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