Official Poverty Rate


Percent of people living in families with total income below the official poverty threshold.


Most of the data are from the U.S. Census Bureau Historical Poverty Tables for People. The Census Bureau’s estimates are based on the Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement. 

Poverty estimates for some populations and years are produced by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality (CPI), based on microdata from the CPS Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (King et al., 2010). The populations for which estimates are produced by CPI are some breakdowns by age (Age 18 to 24, Age 25 to 34, Age 35 to 44, Age 45 to 54, Age 55 to 64) and all breakdowns by education (Less than High School Degree, High School Degree, Some College, and Bachelor’s degree or More). 


King, Miriam, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.

Methodological Notes: 

To classify people as poor, the Census Bureau uses a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. If a family's total income is below the poverty threshold relevant to that family, then every individual in the family is classified as poor. The official poverty thresholds do not vary geographically, but they are updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI-U). The official poverty definition uses money income before taxes as its measure of income, and does not include capital gains or the monetary value of noncash benefits such as public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps. For more information, see the Census Bureau’s poverty definitions.

In 2002, there were substantial changes in the racial categories used by the Census Bureau. Time series by race that include data from both racial classifications should be interpreted with care. More details on the changes in racial categories.