Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Poverty is up, but how much?

The way you measure poverty makes a big difference in the results you get.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that 15.8% of Americans lived in poverty last year, using an alternative gauge that differs sharply from the 13.2% official poverty rate the agency released last month.

Why the difference?

The official measure, created in 1955, does not factor in rising medical care, transportation, child care, or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does it consider non-cash government aid when calculating income. As a result, official figures released in September may have overlooked millions of poor people, many of them 65 and older.

So to help give a more rounded understanding of poverty in the country, the Census Bureau releases alternative measures developed by the National Academy of Sciences.

Read The Christian Science Monitor report here. And see previous posts about how the poverty rate is measured here and here.


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