Friday, October 17, 2014

How The Census Bureau Measures Poverty

The US Census Bureau offers two measures of poverty. The official measure of poverty is the more traditional piece based on a 1963 definition of poverty living based largely on cash resource availability. The second measure is the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) which accounts for non-cash benefits from government programs aimed at low income families as well as cash resources of the household.

Below is an infographic comparing the two measures which helps explain their differences more fully. A publication by the Census Bureau, located here, provides some comparisons between the official and SPM data by state. To see local information for your community on poverty, visit this previous post of poverty and income by municipality.

how census measures poverty infographic image [Source: U.S. Census Bureau]