Nearly 50 milion poor North Americans

You would not think it possible, but from the newly released ciphers we can find a record number of Americans — 49.1 million — which are poor.

U.S. Census Bureau Regions

U.S. Census Bureau Regions, Partnership and Data Services Program. A map of the US Census Bureau Regions

The  first-ever supplemental poverty new census measure takes for the first time into account rising medical costs and other expenses. Based on the revised formula, the number of poor peopleexceeds the record 46.2 million, or 15.1 per cent, that was officially reported in September.

The traditional measure of assessing poverty was first applied in the 1960s, when Americans spent roughly a third of their income on food.

Today, spending on food has shrunk to a seventh of household income, census officials say, while spending on housing, utilities and work expenses has expanded.

The new measure, which counts those costs, was designed to adjust for that shift.

Census Bureau seal

United States Bureau of the Census: Census Bureau seal

The new method is designed to provide a more complete poverty, taking into account the government benefits they receive poor pay and expenses.

It is good to notice that at last the official benchmark focuses more narrowly on wages in cash and wants to take into account the necessary expenses and geographic differences in prices, people cannot evade. Acting on recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences, the Census Bureau designed the new measure to capture the impact of many forms of non-cash public assistance, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and energy assistance. Expenses such as income and payroll taxes, work-related expenses such as transportation and child care, and medical costs increased the poverty rate by as much as 3.3 percentage points.

Percentage of Hispanic or Latino residents by ...

Diagram indicating Hispanic and Latino settlement in the United States. Image as based on the census 2000 by the U.S. Census Bureau. - Image via Wikipedia

The revised figures show lower poverty rates of children and people of color (fell to 25.4%, down from 27.5%), but higher for whites, Asians, Hispanics and seniors with high medical expenses. Renters experience a small drop in poverty, while homeowners see their poverty rates increase, regardless of whether they have a mortgage.

According to Alan Berube, a senior research fellow at Brookings, who last week published a report on the super poor:  “It demonstrates that the government programmes like tax credit, really do reduce poverty – particularly for families for children”.  “Nutritional assistance and tax credits: all of these things do help the poor – they do alleviate poverty,” says Berube. “As policies to help the poor are included in potentially larger discussions about the federal deficit we’ll see discussion of these issues. This is important information.”

But we have to be careful when we look at those ciphers for the North Americans. We should be aware that some people in poverty in the US have air-conditioning or televisions. To be fair, by world standards, poor people in the US are better off, but poverty is, clearly, a big problem; lack of healthcare probably the biggest problem given that ~30,000 die annually for lack thereof in the US (not all of them are in poverty though).
—the US has the money, but the lack of public funding as well lots of people of well-being and lots not wanting a decent social security system is driving the US into the proverbial ground

We sincerely do hope that this new initiative can urge policy makers to come up for the weaker people or fragile in our community.

poverty rate census+

Please do find the  supplemental poverty measure document (PDF)


  • CENSUS: New poverty calculus: Cause for alarm or political deception? “When the Census Bureau star… (
    The new measure had a major impact on poverty rates among the elderly, in part because they have large medical expenses. While Social Security keeps many of them just over the poverty line, health care costs can easily pull them under, Short said. Some 15.9% of senior citizens are considered poor, up from 9% under the official rate.
  • US poverty and the census bureau: why count the poor in a new way? (
    in the long-run, this crucial piece of data could really start to tell us something meaningful about the way millions of Americans are forced to live.
  • New Census data raise number of poor to 49 million (
    The poverty rate for the elderly jumped to 15.9 percent, or a roughly 1 in 6 senior citizens, versus 9 percent under the official count.
  • Poverty threshold rises, but more people are poor, in new Census measure (
  • New measure puts U.S. poverty rate at 16% (
    The middle and upper classes fared worse.Families with incomes four times the poverty threshold or more — $97,372 for a family of four — shrank to just 17 percent of the population, compared with 36 percent under the official measure, largely because taxes and work expenses were subtracted from income.”What is Obama doing to fix this?” (November 7, 2011, by Keep Trying) Read more

    ” it doesn’t seem like much, or anything. i know, the three new free trade deals. better… “(November 8, 2011, by jhande) Read more
  • New Census Figures Show Increase in Poor to 16 Percent of Total Population (
    The biggest demographic change is occurring among the poorest poor—defined as those living at 50 percent or less of the official poverty level. They are now more likely to be white, Native-born and high school or college graduates, said Elizabeth Kneebone, a senior research associate at Brookings, a nonprofit public policy institution based in Washington, D.C., to the Associated Press on Friday. Continue reading: The Ranks of the Poorest Poor Are Growing.
  • Poverty rate rises under alternate Census measure (
    Americans who live in metropolitan areas have higher poverty rates under the supplemental measure, while the opposite occurs for those who lives outside of them.
  • Out of Mexico; USA poverty rate? (
    Fire is upon us, Time is short, and we can not see the Light!
  • Census’ Alternative Poverty Statistics Prove Elderly Benefits Are Too Meager (
    Commentator alicewolf says: We need to reinstate the Glass Steagall Standard and have Congress utter credit for projects that will provide an infrastructure platform for at least two generations to come. We have to place the too big to fail banks into bankruptcy protection, and hand them back their gambling debts.
  • Number of US “poor” reaches record high under new census formula (
    “As seniors choose between food and medicine, some lawmakers are threatening lifeline programs that provide a boost to those in poverty or a safety net to those grasping at the middle class,” said Jo Ann Jenkins, president of AARP Foundation, which represents the needs of older Americans.”With nearly 16% of seniors already living in poverty, our country cannot afford to slide further backward.”Working-age adults ages 18-64 saw increases in poverty from 13.7% to 15.2% due mostly to commuting and child care costs.
  • Poverty ensnares record 49.1M Americans (
    Economists have long criticized the official poverty rate as inadequate, although they differ widely on the best ways to calculate it. Based on a half-century-old government formula, the official rate continues to assume the average family spends one-third of its income on food. Those costs have actually shrunk to a much smaller share, more like one-seventh.The official formula fails to account for other expenses such as out-of-pocket medical care, child care and commuting, and it does not consider non-cash government aid when calculating income, such as food stamps and tax credits, which have increased in the last few years.
  • Alternative Census Measure Indicates Poverty Higher Than Previously Thought (
    “We’re now about to go into federal debt discussions showing a major increase in elder poverty and a decrease for African-Americans. That just defies common sense, and the political implications could be devastating,” said Douglas Besharov, a University of Maryland public policy professor and former scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, who called the new measure “arbitrary.””Sure, there’s a lot of suffering out there, but the inexorable result of all of this is to give more ammunition to groups to prevent cuts for the elderly. That means more cuts for low-income families,” he said.
  • New Poverty High: Revised Census Formula Shows 49.1 Million (
    Economists and anti-poverty experts continue to differ widely on how best to calculate poverty. On Monday, the Census Bureau acknowledged that its new measure remains a “work in progress,” with additional refinements needed to better determine commuting and housing costs.
    Related video
  • Poverty in America – the almost official estimate (
    Life will become even direr for America’s senior citizens and low-income wage earners when the Federal government finally and completely commits itself to imposing an austerity regime on the country.
  • Revised govt formula shows new poverty high: 49.1M (
    Because of Social Security benefits, only 9 percent of seniors, or roughly 3.5 million, live in poverty according to the official formula. But that number increases by roughly 2.7 million when taking into account the additional health care costs. If it weren’t for those health care costs, the poverty rate for seniors would have dropped to 8.6 percent.”The medical expenses are very large,” Kathleen Short, a research economist at the Census Bureau. “many of the shifts in poverty reflect the large numbers of older people who hover near the poverty line after receiving Social Security cash payments. The poverty line is defined under the official measure as $11,139 for an individual, or $22,314 for a family of four.”

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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