Computations for the 2004 Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia


Size of family unit
Poverty thresholds for 2002 (weighted averages)a/
Column 2 multiplied by 1.023 price inflatorb/
Difference between successive Column 3 entries
Average difference in Column 4c/
February 2004 poverty guidelines
1$9,183$9,394  $9,310
211,75612,026  12,490
314,34814,678  15,670
418,39218,815  18,850d/
521,74422,244  22,030
624,57625,141  25,210
728,00128,645  28,390
830,90731,618  31,570

a/  Column 2 entries are from U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Series P60-222, Poverty in the United States:  2002, Washington, D.C., U.S. Government Printing Office, September 2003, p. 4.

b/  Price inflation calculated from Table 1A of U.S. Department of Labor, Consumer Price Index press release (USDL-04-29), January 15, 2004.  (The Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for all items was 179.9 for calendar year 2002 and 184.0 for calendar year 2003, an increase of 2.3 percent.)

c/  The arithmetic average of Column 4 entries, rounded to the nearest multiple of $20.

d/  Obtained by multiplying the average poverty threshold for a family unit of four persons for 2002 ($18,392, from Column 2) by the price increase factor from 2002 to 2003 (1.023) and rounding the result upward to the nearest whole multiple of $50.  All other entries in Column 6 are obtained by successive addition or subtraction of the average difference ($3,180) to the size–4 2004 guideline entry ($18,850).

For Alaska and Hawaii, where the cost of living is traditionally believed to be significantly higher than in other states, scaling factors of 1.25 and 1.15, respectively, are applied to the 2004 guideline for a family of four for the 48 contiguous states, and the results (if not already a multiple of $10) are rounded upward to the nearest whole multiple of $10.  (These scaling factors were based on Office of Economic Opportunity administrative practice for these two states only beginning in the 1966-1970 period.)  These scaling factors are applied to the average difference for the 48 contiguous states (Column 5) to obtain average differences for Alaska and Hawaii for deriving guidelines for other family sizes; these average differences for Alaska and Hawaii are rounded to the nearest multiple of $10.  For families with more than 8 members, add the following amount for each additional person: $3,180 (48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia); $3,980 (Alaska); $3,660 (Hawaii).