According to new census data, 1 in 15 Americans are now living in poverty and 15% (45.8 million) of the US population are now on food stamps. This is an 8% increase over the past year. By these numbers, the poorest include a single person earning less than $5,570 annually or a family of four living on $11,157. However, the official federal poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,113. This threshold was developed in the 1960s and determines eligilbity for government aid such as food stamps and Medicaid. A major issue with the federal poverty line is that it is the same across the board and does not reflect geographic locations. For example, despite differences in cost of living and incomes, the poverty level in New York is the same as in Mississippi.
However, the Census Bureau has offered a solution to this issue by announcing a second way to calculate the poverty line, the Supplemental Poverty Measure. This method is more detailed and more accurately reflects both expenses and benefits that affect low-income families. For example, geographic location, government assistance and expenses are all considered in the new calculation. The new calculation also increases the poverty threshold from $22,113 to $24,242 which added 3 million more to the number of poor individuals in the US.
Due to financial hardships and unemployment, the situation for many is expected to become grimmer and the number of those living in poverty is expected to increase.