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New Supplemental Poverty Figures Affirm Need for Anti-Poverty Programs

Washington, DC, November 7, 2013

The U.S. Census Bureau released its new Supplemental Poverty Measure yesterday, just five days after automatic cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) took effect.

“Child poverty remains unconscionably high as many American families are still reeling from the ongoing impacts of the recession,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “Only this Congress would think it’s acceptable to take away food stamps from families struggling to feed their children at a time like this.”

Unlike the official poverty measure released in September, the U.S. Census’ Supplemental Poverty Measure accounts for many anti-poverty programs, necessary expenses, and geographic differences. The official poverty measure includes only pretax income, while the supplemental measure adds the value of in-kind benefits, such as SNAP, school lunches, housing assistance and refundable tax credits. The measure also deducts necessary expenses for critical goods and services from income, including child care and commuting expenses, taxes, out-of-pocket medical expenses and child support payments.

According to the measure, 16 percent of Americans lived in poverty in 2012—higher than the official poverty measure of 15 percent. Notably, the supplemental poverty rate for those 65 and older was 14.8 percent compared with only 9.1 percent using the official measure. At the same time, the rates for children were higher than the rates for both 18- to 64-year-olds and people 65 and older. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, SNAP kept 4.9 million people above the poverty line, including 2.2 million children.

“These new numbers speak to the effectiveness of vital anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs,” added Beckmann. “Without them, far more people would suffer. Now more than ever, Congress needs to maintain a circle of protection around programs that help people lift themselves out of poverty.”

The supplemental rates were higher than the official statewide poverty rates in 13 states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Virginia—and the District of Columbia.


Bread for the World is a collective Christian voice urging our nation's decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.

Media Contact:

Fito Moreno, Interim Media Relations Manager, 202-688-1138

 

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