Every year when the Census Bureau releases its annual updates on the economic well-being of the nation and our state, we turn to a measure that has largely been rejected by most people as reflective of what it takes to get by today.
The poverty measure, as typically lifted up in media reports, is calculated based on the food choices of families living in the 1950s. There are various efforts to get a more accurate sense of what it actually takes to makes end meet and avoid hardship—doubling the figure is one way that gets you to the definition of low-income in most circles, and another is developing market-based measures on the costs of the full range of goods a household needs, like the Living Income Standard.
The US Census Bureau and academic researchers have developed another tool—the Supplemental Poverty Measure. This measure includes the government programs that seek to serve low-income people that aren’t accounted for in the official poverty measure. In the U.S., this measure shows that 13.9 percent lived in poverty and that the two most significant programs working to move people out of poverty were Social Security and Refundable Tax Credits. Read more