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The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020

Written by:
Report Number P60-275


Since the publication of the first official U.S. poverty estimates in the 1960s, researchers and policymakers have continued to discuss the best approach to measure income and poverty in the United States. Beginning in 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau began publishing the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), which extends the official poverty measure by taking account of many of the government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure. The SPM is produced with the support of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and this report is the eleventh in the series. This report presents estimates of the prevalence of poverty in the United States using the official measure and the SPM based on information collected in 2021 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC).  

In 2020, several methodological improvements were applied to both the resource and threshold estimation of the SPM. Details of those improvements are available in the report appendix. All 2019 and 2020 estimates in this report reflect implementation of the revised SPM methodology.

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