November 8, 2011

Comparing Two Census Measures of Poverty

The Census Bureau has just published the results from its new alternative measure of poverty, called the Supplemental Poverty Measure, and they differ notably from the poverty rates shown by the official measure that’s been used since the 1960s. A new report by the Pew Hispanic Center compares results under both measures for key demographic groups.

Under the Supplemental Poverty Measure, overall poverty is higher than under the official measure. So are rates for some groups, including Hispanics, Asians, the foreign-born and the elderly. The rates for other groups–including children, blacks and residents of non-metropolitan areas–are lower under the alternative measure than under the official measure.

The report explains some of the differences in how the official and alternative measures are calculated. The alternative measure is intended to account for a wider range of factors that affect people’s costs of living and resources. It will not replace the official measure.

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