The U.S. Census reports today that using three-year averages (2009-2011), the U.S. poverty rate was 15.8 percent using the supplemental poverty measure and 15.0 percent using the official measure.
Supplemental poverty rates were higher than the official measure for all race groups and for Hispanics, with one exception: blacks, who had a supplemental poverty rate of 25.7 percent and an official rate of 27.8 percent.
“There are several important differences between the official and supplemental poverty measures,” said Kathleen Short, a U.S. Census Bureau economist and the report’s author. “For instance, the supplemental measure uses new poverty thresholds that represent a dollar amount spent on a basic set of goods adjusted to reflect geographic differences in housing costs. The official poverty thresholds are the same no matter where you live.”
Even though supplemental poverty rates were lower for children and higher for those 65 and older than under the official measure, the rates for children were still higher than the rates for 18- to 64-year-olds and people 65 and older. The 15.5 percent supplemental rates for 18- to 64-year-olds was not statistically different from the 15.1 percent rate for people 65 and older.