Report: U.S. Poverty Measure Doesn't Account For Government Assistance

Feb 25, 2015

Credit US Department of Agriculture / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/

The number of Hoosier children in poverty is substantially less than officially reported when all government support programs are accounted for.

That’s according to a new data snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Twenty-nine percent of Hoosier children live at or under the federal poverty line based on the official U.S. poverty measure.

But a new data snapshot released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation contends that the official U.S. poverty measure doesn’t adequately account for government-sponsored poverty intervention programs.

According to the report, the Indiana figure drops 14%—to 15— when child poverty is measured using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, or SPM. That measure, introduced in 2011, accounts for programs such as food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Laura Speer is associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She says both federal and state government programs have helped keep millions of children above poverty nationally.

“They’re really important, they’re really making a difference for lots of kids and families, so we need to keep them in place,” says Speer.

California is home to the largest percentage of impoverished children according to both the official and Supplemental Poverty Measures at 40% and 27% respectively. The percentage of all U.S. children living in poverty using the SPM is 18%. That’s opposed to an official figure of 33%.