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Current Population Survey (CPS)
A joint effort between the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau

There is also additional background information for this table group.

Contents for Group



NA:  Not applicable.                                                                            

X:  The measure is undefined (for instance, the percentage of a nonexistent 



B:  The percentage has been suppressed because it is statistically unreliable.  

Percentages are not shown when the denominator is less than 75 thousand.        


Poverty in the United States is measured by comparing family income with one of 

48 poverty thresholds--the dollar amounts used to determine who is poor.  

The poverty thresholds vary by size of family and the ages of the members.  See for further explanation.                


        1       Universe: All people except unrelated individuals under 

                age 15 (such as foster children).  Since the Current    

                Population Survey asks income questions only to people age 

                15 and over, if a child under age 15 is not part of a 

                family by birth, marriage, or adoption, we do not know 

                their income and cannot determine whether or not they are 



                Those people are excluded from the totals so as not to 

                affect the percentages.                                         


        2       People in families: People who are related to the       

                householder by birth, marriage, or adoption.  People who 

                are related to each other but not to the householder    

                are counted elsewhere (usually as unrelated subfamilies).  



        3       People in unrelated subfamilies: People who are not     

                related to the householder, but who are related to each 

                other, either as a married couple or as a parent-child 

                relationship with an unmarried child under 18.          



        4       Unrelated individuals: People who are not in primary    

                families (the householder's family) or unrelated        


        5       Ratio of income to poverty: People and families are     

                classified as poor if their income is less than their 

                poverty threshold.  If their income is less than

                 half their poverty threshold, they are severely poor 

                (below 50% of poverty); less than the threshold itself, 

                they are poor (below 100% of poverty); less than 1.25 

                times the threshold, below 125% of poverty, and so on.  

                The greater the ratio of income to poverty, the more    

                people fall under the category, because higher ratios 

                include more people with higher incomes.  

        6       Percentage below x% of poverty: The number below x% of the 

                poverty threshold, divided by the number in  "all income 

                levels,"  then multiplied by 100.  The poverty rate is the 

                percentage below 100% of the poverty threshold.  

        7       Householder's poverty status: The poverty threshold and 

                income were based only on his or her family members, if 

                any were present.  Anyone not related to the householder 

                had no impact on the householder's poverty status. 


        8       Householders living alone: Does not include people in  

                "group quarters " (such as halfway houses or boarding 

                houses) who happen to be living alone.     


        9       People in families with related children: People living in 

                a family where at least one member is a related child--a 

                person under 18 who is related to the householder but is 

                not the householder or spouse.  

        10      Primary families (the householder's family): Excludes 

                people who are not related to the householder.  

        11      In married-couple families the householder may be either 

                the husband or the wife.  

        12      Refers to the race or ethnicity of the householder.     

                People within the same family may be of different races or 


        13      Families with related children: A family in which at least 

                one member is a related child--a person under 18 who is 

                related to the householder but is not the householder or 


        14      Related children: People under 18 who are related to the 

                householder, but who are not themselves the householder or 

                the householder's spouse.                       

        15      Own children: Sons and daughters, including stepchildren 

                and adopted children, of the householder.               


        16      Work experience: Refers to the longest job held in the 

                previous calendar year.  The work experience categories 

                are based on the number of weeks worked, and the number of 

                hours worked per week.                          


                Full-time year-round: Worked at least 35 hours per week, 

                for at least 50 weeks last year (including paid sick leave 

                and vacations).                         


                Not full-time year-round: Worked for at least 1 week last 

                year, but for less than 50 weeks, or less than 35 hours 

                per week, or both.                      

        17      Tallies by age and sex include people age 16 and older.  

                Tallies by household relationship only include ages 16 to 



        18      Includes related children ages 16 and 17 and own children 

                18 years and over.                      

        19      Standard error: A measure of an estimate's variability.  

                The greater the standard error in relation to the size of 

                the estimate, the less reliable the estimate.  


        20      Mean income deficit: Obtained by adding up the deficits 

                across all poor families, then dividing by the number of 

                poor families.                          


                Mean income surplus: Obtained by adding up the surpluses 

                across all nonpoor families, then dividing by the number 

                of nonpoor families.                    

        21      Median income deficit or surplus:  The median deficit is 

                the dollar amount that divides the number of poor families 

                into two equal groups: one-half of the families have a 

                smaller deficit than the median, and the other half have a 

                greater deficit than the median.  If all poor families 

                were lined up by the size of their income deficit, the 

                median deficit would be in the middle.  Similarly, the 

                median surplus divides nonpoor families into two equal 



        22      Deficit or surplus per capita:  Deficit per capita was 

                obtained by adding up the deficits across all poor      

                families, then dividing by the number of poor people in 

                those families.  Surplus per capita was obtained in a 

                similar way, but for nonpoor people.                    



        23      Based on the highest grade completed.  Applies only to 

                people age 15 and older.  People under 15 are included in 

                the totals only.                                                        


        24      Natives are defined as people born in the United States, 

                Puerto Rico, or an outlying area of the United States, and 

                those born in a foreign country but who had at least one 

                parent who was a U.S. citizen.  All others are foreign-

                born regardless of date of entry into the United States or 

                citizenship status.  The Current Population Survey, the 

                source of these data, does not extend to Puerto Rico or to 

                the outlying areas of the United States, and thus those 

                living there are excluded from these poverty statistics.   



        25      Enrollment: Attendance or enrollment in a high school, 

                college or university.  Defined only for people ages 16-24 

                who are not serving in the armed forces.  Enrollment or 

                attendance as of the week prior to interview.  People 

                under age 16, people 16 to 24 serving in the armed forces, 

                and people 25 and over are shown in the totals only.  



        26      The averages include householders with and without      



        27      The averages only include householders with children.  


        28      When assigning poverty thresholds, the number of  "related 

                children" is the number of people in the family under 18, 

                who are related to the family reference person but are not 

                themselves the family reference person or his or her    



        29      Weighted average poverty thresholds: Some data users want 

                to get a general sense of the  "poverty line," rather than 

                the full detail of all 48 thresholds cross-classified by 

                size of family and number of related children.  These 

                weighted average thresholds provide that summary, but they 

                are not used to compute poverty data.  They are "weighted" 

                averages because within a family size, some child/adult 

                combinations occur more frequently than others.  

                Therefore, the weighted average thresholds take into 

                account how many families each threshold applies to when 

                the Census Bureau computes the number of poor.          

        30      Totals show the number of people who currently live in 

                census tracts that had poverty rates of 20 percent or more 

                (poverty areas), 30 percent or more, 40 percent or more, 

                and less than 20 percent (outside of poverty areas),    

                according to the 1990 Census of Population and Housing.    

                Among those people,  "below poverty level" shows the    

                number and percent who were poor in the current year.   


                Census tract: a small geographic area usually containing 

                2,500 to 8,000 people.          

        31      Region and division: The four regions of the country are 

                as follows:     


                Northeast:      New England Division (Maine, New Hampshire, 

                                Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island,   



                                Middle Atlantic Division (New York, New 

                                Jersey, Pennsylvania) 


                Midwest:        East North Central Division (Ohio, Indiana, 

                                Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin) 


                                West North Central Division (Minnesota, Iowa, 

                                Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, 

                                Nebraska, Kansas) 


                South:          South Atlantic Division (Delaware, Maryland, 

                                District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, 

                                North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia,        



                                East South Central Division (Kentucky,  

                                Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi) 

                                West South Central Division (Arkansas,  

                                Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) 


                West:           Mountain Division (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, 

                                Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada) 

                                Pacific Division (Washington, Oregon,   

                                California, Alaska, Hawaii)                     



        32      Receipt of Assistance: People who lived with someone (a 

                nonrelative or a relative) who received aid.  Not every 

                person tallied here received the aid themselves.        



        33      Earnings below weighted average poverty threshold for a 4-

                person family: Identifies how many people do not earn 

                enough at their job, or if they are self-employed, their 

                farm or business, to keep a family of 4 out of poverty, 

                even when their earnings were combined with their other 

                family members' earnings.                                       



                This measure is different from the official poverty 

                measure, which uses all sources of money income (except 

                capital gains), not just earnings, and uses thresholds 

                that vary by family size.                                       



        34      A.O.I.C.:   "Alone or in combination" with one or more 

                other races.                                                    


                New Race Categories:  The 2003 CPS asked respondents to 

                choose one or more races. White alone refers to people who 

                reported White and did not report any other race category. 

                The use of this single-race population does not imply that 

                it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing 

                data. The Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches.  

                Information on people who reported more than one race, 

                such as "White and American Indian and Alaska Native" or 

                "Asian and Black or African American," is available from 

                Census 2000 through American FactFinder.  About 2.6 

                percent of people reported more than one race in 2000. 


                Black alone refers to people who reported Black and did 

                not report any other race category.                             


                Asian alone refers to people who reported Asian and did 

                not report any other race category.                     



Source:  U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2006 Annual Social and Economic Supplement.                                                                             

Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Contact: Census Bureau Question & Answer Center at
Last revised: August 26, 2008