For the first time in 40 years, the Census Bureau has today released new experimental poverty measures to supplement the official poverty calculation, which has been criticized as outdated. Using the new measure, which will not replace the official calculation, the overall rate of Americans living in poverty was 15.3% in 2009, compared to 14.5% using the older calculation. The updated methodology factors in non-cash government aid (like food stamps), regional differences in the cost of living, and income after expenses (like child support and health care and transportation costs).
Notably, the revised poverty figures showed that about 2 million fewer children were living in poverty (17.3%) than the official count showed (21.2%). The revised poverty measures will not replace the official count, which will continue to be used to determine eligibility and distribution federal aid.
For more information:
- On the Inside School Research blog at Education Week: “New Census Measure Finds Fed Programs Lower Child Poverty“
- In the AP: “Revised government formula shows new poverty high: 49.1M“
- In the New York Times: “Bleak Portrait of Poverty Is Off the Mark, Experts Say“
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