Income is the gauge many use to determine the well-being of the U.S. population. Survey and census questions cover poverty, income, and wealth. The economic well-being of most Americans depends on their income or on the income of family members. If the income of a family or an individual is below the official poverty threshold, then that family or individual is considered to be in poverty.
The poverty threshold follows the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Directive 14, a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition to determine who is in poverty.
Several major household surveys and programs conducted by the Census Bureau collect income and poverty data. They include the American Community Survey (ACS), the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP).
For more background on each survey or program, the differences between them, and how to choose the right data source, see the Guidance for Data Users section of this topic site.
For assistance, please contact the Census Call Center at 1-800-923-8282 (toll free) or visit ask.census.gov for further information.