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Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) Report Details Prevalence of Poverty, Measurement Discrepancies

The United States Census Bureau recently unveiled its eighth Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) report, detailing the prevalence of poverty in our society and estimating the differences between the official measure of poverty and the poverty measures that take account of non-cash benefits and nondiscretionary expenses. 

The 2017 report showed slight improvement in the SPM poverty rate (.1 percent decrease). However, the 2017 SPM rate was 1.6 percentage points higher than the official poverty rate of 12.3 percent, indicating that there is still work yet to be done. 

The most helpful anti-poverty measures is Social Security, moving 27 million Americans out from under the poverty threshold many of whom, unsurprisingly, are 65 years of age or older. Refundable tax credits, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), various housing subsidies and Supplementary Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) also proved useful, lifting a combined 14.9 million people out of poverty (see graph below).

Poverty Image.PNG

While strides have been made to alleviate the SPM in our country and there is no apparent discrepancies in poverty between 2016 and 2017, there is still room for improvement, namely in number of people struggling with medical and work related expenses.

To read the full U.S. Census Bureau report, click here.

To read the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s recap, click here.

Kathleen Taylor