Why the Census Bureau says poverty is even higher than we thought

at 11:16 AM ET, 11/07/2011

The Census Bureau has used an alternative yardstick that shows levels of poverty in 2010 that are even higher than the official figures, which already put U.S. poverty at record levels. According to the alternative measure, there were 49.1 million poor Americans in 2010, compared with 46.6 million by the official measure. Unlike the official measure developed in the 1970s, the alternative yardstick counts food stamps and other government support as income, while also accounting for child-care costs, geographic difference and a higher standard of living. As a result, poverty levels rose for most groups — particularly older Americans — while the rate among children and African Americans and the “extreme poverty” rate have fallen.

For more on this alternative poverty measure — and the reasons some say it’s flawed — read my earlier post on the subject here.

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