How to Measure Poverty in the U.S.

The U.S. Census Bureau has released a new measure of poverty which adjusts for geography and includes rent, utility and food costs. About 2 million more people are considered poor under this alternate definition of poverty.

The official poverty measure has long been seen as inadequate. It doesn’t include government benefits that many poor people receive, such as food stamps. It doesn’t look at expenses such as health care or taxes. And it doesn’t account for regional differences in the cost of living, which is why people like Sandra Killett of New York City might feel poor — even though the government says she isn’t.

“I make $29,000 [a year], but how much do I bring home?” she says.

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