Bringing the Economy Home

Poverty Rises in the West Using New Census Bureau Calculation

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

In downtown Los Angeles this fall, a man waited for a soup kitchen meal.

The U.S. Census Bureau released a new and expanded measure of domestic poverty today.  Unlike the official poverty line, which is calculated based on food costs, the Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure takes into account things like geographic differences in the cost of living and the assistance received through public benefits like food stamps.

We were curious to see whether today’s report would reveal any information about regional poverty, and there is an interesting nugget.  Under the new calculation, the number of people living in poverty in the West increased by four percent.  That’s compared to a gain of less than two percent in the Northeast, and slight reductions in the estimated number of people living in poverty in the Midwest and South.

Census Bureau officials chalk up the gain to high housing costs in the western region.  The agency has not released state-by-state calculations as part of this report, but says state-level tables will be included next year.


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