Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Fourteenth Report to Congress. Economic Security Risk Factor 3. Research Supplemental Poverty Measure

09/22/2015

Figure ECON 3.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty Using the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures by Demographic Characteristics: 2013

Figure ECON 3.  Percentage of Persons in Poverty Using the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures by Demographic Characteristics: 2013

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2014.

Note: Estimates for Black persons include those of Hispanic ethnicity.  Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race.  Beginning in 2002, estimates for Whites and Blacks are for persons reporting a single race only.  Persons who reported more than one race are included in the total for all persons but are not shown under any race category.  Due to small sample size, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are included in all persons but are not shown separately.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013" Tables 1 & 6, Current Population Reports, Series P60-251


  • Figure ECON 3 shows a comparison of the percentage of persons in poverty using the official poverty measure and the Census Bureau’s supplemental poverty measure by selected demographic characteristics.23
  • The supplemental poverty measure yields poverty rates that are similar to the official poverty measure overall.  In 2013, 15.5 percent of all persons were poor under the supplemental poverty measure and 14.6 percent of all persons were poor under the official poverty measure.
  • The supplemental and official poverty rates show some differences by age and other characteristics.  In 2013, the supplemental poverty rate among children was 4.0 percentage points lower than the official rate, partly because it takes into account non-cash benefits that many children receive.  Conversely, the supplemental poverty rate among the elderly in 2013 was 5.1 percentage points higher than the official rate, in part due to out-of-pocket health costs for these persons.
  • Table ECON 3 provides greater detail on the supplemental and official poverty measures.

Table ECON 3. Poverty in 2010 and 2013: Official Poverty Measure and Supplemental Poverty Measure

 

Official Poverty Rates

SPM Poverty Rates

2010

2013

Change

2010

2013

Change

Demographic characteristics:

All individuals

15.1

14.6

-0.5

16.0

15.5

-0.5

Children under age 18

22.0

20.4

-1.6

18.0

16.4

-1.6

Individuals ages 18 — 64

13.6

13.6

0.0

15.2

15.4

0.2

Individuals age 65 and older

8.9

9.5

0.6

15.8

14.6

-1.2

Hispanic

26.5

23.7

-2.8

27.7

26.0

-1.7

Black

27.4

27.3

-0.1

25.4

24.7

-0.7

Asian

12.2

10.5

-1.7

16.6

16.4

-0.2

White, non-Hispanic

9.9

9.7

-0.2

11.0

10.7

-0.3

Foreign-born

19.9

18.1

-1.8

25.1

23.8

-1.3

In married-couple units

7.6

6.7

-0.9

9.8

9.5

-0.3

In female-householder units

28.7

28.6

-0.1

29.0

28.5

-0.5

Employment and insurance:

All workers

7.3

7.3

0.0

9.1

9.8

0.7

Full-time/year-round workers

2.7

2.7

0.0

4.8

5.4

0.6

With private health insurance

4.8

5.2

0.4

7.5

8.2

0.7

With public health insurance, no private

37.6

34.1

-3.5

31.5

28.5

-3.0

Not insured

29.2

27.0

-2.2

30.5

29.1

-1.5

Geographic areas:

Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs)

14.9

14.3

-0.6

16.6

15.9

-0.7

Non-metropolitan Areas

16.5

16.2

-0.3

12.8

13.2

0.4

West

15.3

14.8

-0.5

19.3

18.7

-0.6

South

16.8

16.2

-0.6

16.3

15.9

-0.4

Northeast

12.9

12.8

-0.1

14.5

14.3

-0.2

Midwest

14.0

13.0

-1.0

13.1

12.5

-0.6

Poverty by threshold:

0 — 50 % of the poverty threshold

6.8

6.5

-0.3

5.4

5.2

-0.2

50 — 100 % of the poverty threshold

8.4

8.1

-0.3

10.7

10.3

-0.4

100 — 200 % of the poverty threshold

18.8

19.4

0.6

31.8

31.4

-0.4

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2014

Note: Estimates for Black persons include those of Hispanic ethnicity.  Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race.  Beginning in 2002, estimates for Whites and Blacks are for persons reporting a single race only.  Persons who reported more than one race are included in the total for all persons but are not shown under any race category. .

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2013," Tables 1 & 6, Current Population Reports, Series P60-251.


  • Compared to the official poverty measure, the Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) makes changes to how income is measured by: counting the value of federal in-kind benefits available to satisfy basic food, clothing, shelter, and utility needs; subtracting income and payroll taxes; adding refundable tax credits received; and subtracting other necessary expenses such as the cost of child care, other work expenses, child support payments, and out-of pocket medical expenditures.
  • The SPM also makes changes to the poverty thresholds by: using the 33rd percentile of out-of-pocked expenditures on basic needs; varying thresholds based on home ownership/rental status; adjusting the thresholds for geographic differences in the cost of living; and using a five-year moving average of expenditures on basic needs to account for inflation and changes in expenditure patterns. The Census Bureau provides adjusted official poverty estimates (that include unrelated children under age 15) for the exclusive purpose of comparison with the Supplemental Poverty Measure.  Therefore the official poverty estimates may not match the SPM estimates.  See Appendix E for more details.

23 The U.S. Census Bureau developed the supplemental poverty measure based on the 2010 recommendations of an Interagency Technical Working Group, which drew on the earlier recommendations of the 1995 National Academy of Sciences Panel on Poverty and Family Assistance.

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