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Poverty in the United States: 2021


Poverty in the United States: 2021

This report presents poverty estimates using two measures, the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The official poverty measure, in use since the 1960s, defines poverty by comparing pretax money income to a poverty threshold that is adjusted by family composition. The SPM, first released in 2011 and produced with support from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), extends the official poverty measure by taking account of many government programs that are designed to assist low-income families but are not included in the official poverty measure. The SPM also includes federal and state taxes and work and medical expenses. In addition, the SPM accounts for geographic variation in poverty thresholds, while the official poverty measure does not.

This report presents estimates using the official poverty measure and the SPM for calendar year 2021, marking the first time both poverty measures have been integrated into a single report. The estimates contained in the report are based on information collected in the 2022 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC) conducted by the Census Bureau. Estimates for 2020 in this report will not match those published last year due to the implementation of the 2020 Census-based population controls.

Official Poverty Measure

Supplemental Poverty Measure

Differences in Poverty Measures

Official Poverty Measure:

Supplemental poverty measure:, source information.

For information on confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions, see https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/cps/techdocs/cpsmar22.pdf [PDF - <1.0 MB]. 

The Census Bureau has reviewed this data product to ensure appropriate access, use, and disclosure avoidance protection of the confidential source data used to produce this product. Data Management System (DMS) number: D-0000010797, Disclosure Review Board (DRB) approval number: CBDRB-FY22-358.

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The Census Bureau’s 2020 Supplemental Poverty Measure rate was 2.3 percentage points lower than the official poverty rate of 11.4%.

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poverty measures essay pdf

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