An alternative way of measuring poverty shows that nearly 2.8 million more people are struggling across the country than officially calculated, the
The alternative yardstick, known as the supplemental poverty measure, is different from the official poverty rate in a few key ways: It takes tax credits and other government benefits into account. It also counts necessary expenses such as child care and out-of-pocket medical costs.
In addition, it considers the different costs of housing from state to state. That makes a big difference in California, where the broader measure counts more than 8.9 million people living in poverty between 2010 and 2012 -- far higher than the 6.2 million tallied the official way.
The official poverty line is the same “whether you live in
Using the alternative measure, California had the highest poverty in the country between 2010 and 2012 – 23.8% -- followed by the District of Columbia and Nevada. The official measure ranked Louisiana, Mississippi and New Mexico at the top during that period.
The alternative measure also shows steeper poverty among immigrants and the elderly than officially measured. The poverty rate among Asian Americans, officially measured at 11.8%, jumps to 16.7% using the alternative measure.
By either measure, poverty has stagnated. Earlier this year, the Census Bureau reported that the official poverty rate was virtually the same in 2011 and 2012. The alternative also shows little change in those years, a reflection of continued hardship in the wake of the recession.
“Unemployment is still huge. We’ve cut housing. We’ve cut