Friday, November 13, 2009

Higher State Poverty Rates Based on Alternative Measure

Source: Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP)

The percent of Americans living in poverty is higher than the current poverty measure captures, according to a new report that, for the first time, lists how poverty rates change in each state using a modern poverty measure.

The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) compiled the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) calculations of each state’s poverty rate using a Census web tool and published these calculations in Measure by Measure: the Current Poverty Measure v. the National Academy of Sciences Measures.

“The current federal poverty measure is bereft in many ways,” said Dorothy Smith, the report’s author. “It only considers the cost of food, but not other basic living expenses. And it doesn’t count other sources of income and programs designed to lift people out of poverty, such as tax credits and Food Stamps.”

Measure by Measure provides each state and the District of Columbia two additional poverty rates using poverty measures based on NAS recommendations. The NAS poverty measure captures median spending by a family of four on food, clothing, shelter and other needs. Under this measure, income is broadly defined to include such non-cash resources as tax credits, and Food Stamps while subtracting expenses such as child care and medical expenses. The second measure adds an adjustment for the geographic differences in the cost of housing.

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