This report presents social and economic characteristics of the population below the poverty level in 1990 based on the March 1991 Current Population Survey (CPS). Unlike previous years there will be no combined poverty and income "advance" report followed by separate "final" reports. Because of expedited publication procedures we are now able to publish final reports at about the same time that we published the advance report in previous years. The poverty definition used in this report is that adopted for official Government use by the Office of Management and Budget and consists of a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. Poverty status is based on responses to income questions which in the March CPS refer to pre-tax income received in the previous calendar year. Families or individuals with income below their appropriate poverty threshold are classified as below the poverty level. These poverty statistics exclude inmates of institutions, Armed Forces members in barracks, and unrelated individuals under 15 years of age. Poverty thresholds are updated every year to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. For example, the average poverty threshold for a family of four was $12,674 in 1989 but $13,359 in 1990. Average poverty thresholds in 1990 varied from $6,652 for a person living alone to $26,848 for a family of nine or more members. The poverty definition is based on pre-tax money income only, excluding capital gains, and does not include the value of noncash benefits such as employer-provided health insurance, food stamps, or Medicaid. For further discussion, see the section entitled "Collection and Limitations of Poverty Data."
The data in this report consist of cross classifications of poverty status by such characteristics as age, race, Hispanic origin; family relationship, educational attainment, work experience and type of income received. Although the primary focus of the tables is on the United States as a whole, some tables also present data by region and type of residence. In addition, appendix D presents poverty estimates and rates for States for the years 1980 through 1990 based on CPS figures.
The detailed tables in this report represent a new table package, designed to meet the changing data needs of policymakers and the general public within the limitations of the CPS data. Tables were added to address frequently-asked questions and, similarly, some tables in which there was little current interest were dropped from our standard table package. Our old table package is not available for the years after 1987. Our new package is available for 1987, but will not be published for that year. Our new tables were published for 1988 and 1989 in Current Population Reports, P-60, No. 171, Poverty in the United States: 1988 and 1989.
In the text, the terms "poverty population", "poor", and "below the poverty level" are used interchangeably, as are the terms "nonpoor" and "above the poverty level". Characteristics such as age and marital status are as of the survey date (e.g., March 1991), while income, poverty status, and work experience data refer to the whole previous calendar year ( e.g., 1990). In the report text, the year cited refers to the "income" year.
Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.