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The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2018

Report Number P60-268
Liana Fox
Component ID: #ti356631879
Component ID: #ti1839248846


Since the publication of the first official U.S. poverty estimates, researchers and policymakers have continued to discuss the best approach to measure income and poverty in the United States. Beginning in 2011, the Census Bureau began publishing the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which extends the official poverty measure by taking account of many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure. This is the ninth report describing the SPM, released by the U.S. Census Bureau, with support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This report presents updated estimates of the prevalence of poverty in the United States using the official measure and the SPM based on information collected in 2019 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC).

Component ID: #ti1638743707


  • In 2018, the overall SPM rate was 13.1 percent. This is not statistically different from the 2017 SPM rate of 13.0 (Figure 1).

  • SPM rates were not statistically different for any of the major age categories in 2018 compared with 2017. SPM rates for children under the age of 18 were 14.5 percent, which is not significantly different than 14.2 percent in 2017 (Figure 1 and Figure 2).

  • The SPM rate for 2018 was 1.3 percentage points higher than the official poverty rate of 11.8 percent (Figure 3).

  • There were 16 states plus the District of Columbia for which SPM rates were higher than official poverty rates, 22 states with lower rates, and 12 states for which the differences were not statistically significant (Figure 7).

  • Social Security continued to be the most important anti-poverty program, moving 27.3 million individuals out of poverty. Refundable tax credits moved 7.9 million people out of poverty (Figure 8).

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