Profile Picture Jessica Silverberg

created Oct 5 2014

updated Aug 28 2016

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Additional information about how the Census Bureau measures poverty is available at https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/measure.html
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How Poverty is Calculated in the ACS
Poverty statistics presented in ACS reports and tables adhere to the standards specified by
the Office of Management and Budget in Statistical Policy Directive 14. The Census
Bureau uses a set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition to
determine who is in poverty. Further, poverty thresholds for people living alone or with
nonrelatives (unrelated individuals) and two-person families vary by age (under 65 years
or 65 years and older).
If a family’s total income is less than the dollar value of the appropriate threshold, then
that family and every individual in it are considered to be in poverty. Similarly, if an
unrelated individual’s total income is less than the appropriate threshold, then that
individual is considered to be in poverty. The poverty thresholds do not vary
geographically. They are updated annually to allow for changes in the cost of living
(inflation factor) using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Poverty status was determined for all people except institutionalized people, people in
military group quarters, people in college dormitories, and unrelated individuals under 15
years old. These groups were excluded from the numerator and denominator when
calculating poverty rates.
Since the ACS is a continuous survey, people respond throughout the year. Because the
income items specify a period covering the last 12 months, the appropriate poverty
thresholds are determined by multiplying the base-year poverty thresholds (1982) by the
monthly inflation factor based on the 12 monthly CPIs and the base-year CPI.
(Source: https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/poverty-cal-in-acs.pdf)
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American Community Survey, Census Bureau-- S1701: POVERTY STATUS IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS
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