US Poverty Rate Hits Record 16%

United States - Bureau of the Census logoAccording to a report released earlier today titled "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2010", a record 16% of the population of the United States was living in poverty in 2010. This works out to a staggering 49.1 million people that were living in poverty last year.

The "official" poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1%, but also has something called the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The Supplemental Poverty Measure includes income such as SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance), housing subsidies and the National School Lunch Program, but also takes into account expenses such as taxes, work-related costs and medical costs. Thanks, in large part, to rising medical costs, the Supplemental Poverty Measure is higher than the "official" poverty rate.

The "official" poverty threshold for 2010 was $22,113, up from $21,756. This is the poverty threshold for the typical two adult, two child family.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure thresholds for 2010 looked like this:

Not Accounting for Housing Status - $24,343
Owners with a Mortgage - $25,018
Owners without a Mortgage - $20,590
Renters - $24,391

Now, let's take a look at the percentage of people living in poverty in three different age groups, and how the SPM (Supplemental Poverty Measure) compares to the official rate:

Under 18

Official Rate - 22.5%
SPM Rate - 18.2%


Official Rate - 13.7%
SPM Rate - 15.2%


Official Rate - 9.0%
SPM Rate - 15.9%

Why is the SPM rate for those under 18 lower than the official rate? Well, many in the country who are under 18 will participate in programs such as SNAP, the National School Lunch Program and the Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, but they are not paying taxes, work-related expenses, child care expenses, etc.

On the flip side, the SPM rate for those over 65 is so much higher mainly due to higher medical costs.


Whether you are using the official poverty rate or the SPM rate, one thing is for certain - an unbelievable number of Americans are currently living in poverty.


Filed under: General Knowledge

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