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Since the FY 2011 federal budget did not include the funding requested by the President for the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) initiative, the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics do not currently have the resources necessary to move the Supplemental Poverty Measure from research mode to production mode. Without these additional resources, the September 2011 release date for the Supplemental Poverty Measure estimates suggested in the Interagency Technical Working Group document is not feasible.
Research on many specific aspects of the Supplemental Poverty Measure has gone forward. Dr. Thesia Garner from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has written a number of papers on the SPM poverty thresholds with particular emphasis on the imputations needed to incorporate noncash benefits in the expenditure distributions. These papers are available on the BLS website at http://www.bls.gov/pir/spmhome.htm. She will present the latest paper on the thresholds at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August.
Dr. Kathleen Short at the Census Bureau released a paper in January 2011 providing preliminary SPM poverty estimates using income and resource data from the 2010 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) with 2008 poverty thresholds from Dr. Garner's research. These preliminary estimates incorporate the data from the new CPS ASEC questions on child support, child care payments, housing tenure and medical out of pocket expenditures. In addition, other Census Bureau staff produced working papers on a number of specific topics related to the SPM. These papers evaluate the quality of the data from the new CPS ASEC questions, describe a new method to estimate the value of federal housing assistance, assess the impact of the new unit of analysis, analyze commuting costs and discuss options for adjustment of the thresholds to reflect geographic differences in housing costs. These papers are available on the Census Bureau web site at http://www.census.gov/hhes/povmeas/methodology/supplemental/research.html.
Two workshops on aspects of the SPM were held in April 2011. The first, sponsored by the Urban Institute, discussed strategies for developing SPM estimates using the American Community Survey. The second, sponsored by the University of Kentucky Center for Poverty Research, focused on issues surrounding the cost of living adjustments. The papers presented at the University of Kentucky forum can be found at http://www.ukcpr.org/Conferences.aspx. Census Bureau and BLS researchers presented research papers at the Western Economic Association meetings in June 2011 and will present several papers at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August.
The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics intend to continue their research efforts on this important topic. Without funding from the President's initiative, BLS will not be able to publish 2010 thresholds using the SPM approach in a time frame which would allow the Census Bureau to publish poverty estimates in September and will not be able to add questions to the Consumer Expenditure survey. Given the importance of this initiative, the Census Bureau has redistributed existing resources in order to be able to maintain the new questions on the CPS ASEC and release a new set of preliminary poverty estimates using the 2011 CPS ASEC before the end of October 2011. If the initiative included in the President's 2012 budget is approved, this work will move from a research operation to full-fledged production. At that time the Census Bureau will be prepared to release the SPM estimates at the same time as the release of the "official" poverty statistics and BLS will move forward in its efforts to add questions to the Consumer Expenditure survey and formalize the threshold estimates.