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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  TUESDAY, JAN. 07, 2014

Infographics Highlight the History and Measurement of Poverty

Poverty: The Histroy of a Measure

A new infographic, "Poverty: The History of a Measure," presents a timeline of major milestones in the Census Bureau's effort to measure poverty since President Johnson's January 1964 declaration of his "War on Poverty" 50 years ago.

A companion infographic, "How Census Measures Poverty," examines differences between the nation's official poverty measure and the supplemental poverty measure, which includes accounting for government programs designed for low-income families and individuals.

5 Key Things To Know About Census Poverty Data

  • The Census Bureau releases poverty statistics from several surveys, including the Current Population Survey, the American Community Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation, that generate data crucial to the work of researchers and policymakers in the public, private and non-profit sectors.How Census Measures Poverty
  • The Census Bureau published the first statistics using the Official Poverty Measure in the early 1960s. In 2010, the Census Bureau also began releasing poverty statistics using the Supplemental Poverty Measure.
  • The Official Poverty Measure was developed in the early 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. This measure does not reflect the key government policies enacted since that time to help low-income individuals meet their needs.
  • The Supplemental Poverty Measure was first reported in 2010. It extends the Official Poverty Measure by taking account of government benefits and necessary expenses such as taxes that are not in the official measure.
  • The number and percent of people in poverty vary according to the measure. In 2012, there were 46.5 million people in poverty, according to the Official Poverty Measure. The Supplemental Poverty Measure was slightly higher than the official measure, identifying 49.7 million people as poor.
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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: July 15, 2014