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

03/01/2014

Figure ECON 3. Percentage of Persons in Poverty Using the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures by Demographic Characteristics: 2011

(In percent)

Figure ECON 3. Percentage of Persons in Poverty Using the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures by Demographic Characteristics: 2011

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2012.

Notes: 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.

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: 2011" Tables 1 & 6, Current Population Reports, Series P60-244.


  • 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.19
  • The supplemental poverty measure yields poverty rates that are fairly similar to the official poverty measure overall. In 2011, 16.1 percent of all persons were poor under the supplemental poverty measure and 15.1 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 2011, the supplemental poverty rate among children was 4.2 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 2011 was 6.4 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 measure.

Table ECON 3. Percent of People in Poverty by Different Poverty Measures: 2010 and 2011

  Official SPM
2010 2011 Change 2010 2011 Change
Demographic characteristics:
    All individuals 15.1 15.1 0.0 16.0 16.1 0.1
    Children under age 18 22.0 22.3 0.3 18.0 18.1 0.1
    Individuals ages 18 — 64 13.6 13.7 0.1 15.2 15.5 0.3
    Individuals age 65 and older 8.9 8.7 -0.2 15.8 15.1 -0.7
    Hispanic 26.5 25.4 -1.1 27.7 28.0 0.3
    Black 27.4 27.8 0.4 25.4 25.7 0.3
    Asian 12.2 12.3 0.1 16.6 16.9 0.3
    White, non-Hispanic 9.9 9.9 0.0 11.0 11.0 0.0
    Foreign-born 19.9 19.0 -0.9 25.1 25.8 0.7
    In married-couple units 7.6 7.4 -0.2 9.8 10.0 0.2
    In female-householder units 28.7 29.6 0.9 29.0 30.0 1.0
Employment and insurance:
    All workers 7.3 7.2 -0.1 9.1 9.4 0.3
    Full-time/year-round workers 2.7 2.8 0.1 4.8 5.1 0.3
    With private health insurance 4.8 5.0 0.2 7.5 7.6 0.1
    With public health insurance, no private 37.6 36.7 -0.9 31.5 31.3 -0.2
    Not insured 29.2 28.3 -0.9 30.5 30.9 0.4
Geographic areas:
    Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) 14.9 14.7 -0.2 16.6 16.6 0.0
    Non-metropolitan Areas 16.5 17.1 0.6 12.8 13.5 0.7
    West 15.3 15.9 0.6 19.3 20.0 0.7
    South 16.8 16.1 -0.7 16.3 16.0 -0.3
    Northeast 12.9 13.2 0.3 14.5 15.0 0.5
    Midwest 14.0 14.1 0.1 13.1 12.8 -0.3
Poverty by threshold:
    0 — 50 % of the poverty threshold 6.8 6.7 -0.1 5.4 5.2 -0.2
    50 — 100 % of the poverty threshold 8.4 8.4 0.0 10.7 10.9 0.2
    100 — 200 % of the poverty threshold 18.8 19.4 0.6 31.8 32.0 0.2

Data: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, 2012.

Notes: 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.

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: Source: U.S. Census Bureau, "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2011" Tables 1 & 6, Current Population Reports, Series P60-244 and “The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010”, Table 1, Current Population Reports, Series P60-241.


19 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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