Thu November 15, 2012

New Census Measure Shows Increase In Colorado Poverty

More people in Colorado may be living in poverty than previously thought.

A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week highlights a new ‘supplemental poverty measure’ that factors in regional cost differences including government programs like food stamps.

Colorado’s supplemental measure is 1.5 percent higher [.pdf] than its traditional one. Kathleen Short, a Census Bureau economist says there could be a number of reasons why the measurements differ.

“We have a different set of thresholds; those are adjusted for differences in housing costs. We include in-kind benefits that are provided to families, and we also subtract necessary expenses like taxes and medical expenses.”

While the new supplemental poverty measure will not replace the official one, it’s designed to highlight regional economic needs.

According to the Washington Post, "The official poverty threshold is the amount of money a family of three would have to make to spend less than one-third of their income on food in 1963 and 1964." 

The current official poverty measure does not factor in changing costs in transportation, health insurance, or government assistance programs.