Persons in poverty, percent

QuickFacts uses data from the following sources: National level - Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC); State level - American Community Survey (ACS), one-year estimates; County level - The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE), one-year estimates; Sub-county level: Cities, towns and census designated places; - ACS, five-year estimates; Puerto Rico and its municipios (county-equivalents for Puerto Rico) and its sub-counties (zonas urbanas and comunidades); Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS), five-year estimates.

All of these data sources provide estimates at geographic levels other than the ones listed. Below is a chart which provides a summary of the data source recommendations by geographic level. Included in this chart is the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), a longitudinal survey (changes in poverty status for the same household over time). Which Data Source to Use

How the Census Bureau measures poverty: The Census Bureau poverty definition - Following the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) Statistical Policy Directive 14, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty. If a family's total income is less than the family's threshold, then that family and every individual in it is considered in poverty. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition uses money income before taxes and does not include capital gains or noncash benefits (such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps). For more information: How the Census Bureau Measures Poverty

For differences between the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey poverty estimates and the American Community Survey poverty estimates, see: Fact Sheet - Differences Between CPS ASEC and ACS

Data at a national level - Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC).

The Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS ASEC) provides annual, calendar-year, national estimates of income and official poverty numbers and rates. Census Bureau conducts the ASEC over a 3 month period, in February, March, and April, with most data collection occurring in the month of March. The CPS, sponsored jointly by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the country's primary source of labor force statistics for the civilian, non-institutional population.

Income and Poverty in the United States
The Supplemental Poverty Measure
Health Insurance Coverage in the United States
Source and Accuracy of Estimates for Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage

Data at a state level - American Community Survey (ACS), Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS), one-year estimates.

The ACS is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with reliable and timely demographic, social, economic and housing estimates every year. The ACS provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the United States and Puerto Rico, of which this Fact is one. These surveys are the only source of local estimates for most of the 40 topics it covers such as education, occupation, language, ancestry, and housing costs, and provides information for even the smallest communities. Estimates are available for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more. One-year estimates include information collected from independent monthly samples from the previous 12 months.

Data and Documentation, Accuracy of data

Data at a county level - Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE)

The U.S. Census Bureau's SAIPE program provides annual estimates of income and poverty statistics for all school districts, counties, and states. The main objective of this program is to provide estimates of income and poverty for the administration of federal programs and the allocation of federal funds to local jurisdictions. In addition to these federal programs, state and local programs use the income and poverty estimates for distributing funds and managing programs.

These estimates combine data from administrative records, postcensal population estimates, and the decennial census with direct estimates from the American Community Survey to provide consistent and reliable single-year estimates.

Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates main page
Frequently asked questions

Data at a Sub-county level - American Community Survey (ACS) and Puerto Rico Community Survey (PRCS), five-year estimates.

The ACS and PRCS produce estimates for numerous social, economic and housing characteristics including language, education, the commute to work, employment, mortgage status and rent, as well as income, poverty and health insurance. A multi-year estimate is simply a period estimate that encompasses more than one calendar year. While a one-year estimate includes information collected from independent monthly samples from the previous 12 months, a five-year estimate includes information collected over a 60-month period. These estimates are available for all areas regardless of population size, down to the block group.

Data and Documentation, Accuracy of data