Kathmandu 17 OCT 2014: Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau Thursday. It provides an alternative look at the worst off people in the nation than the official numbers that come out in September. Government programs such as food stamps do help some people, especially children, but even so 16% of American children are living in poverty, according to the supplemental report.
“These are bad numbers,” said Robert Doar, a fellow of poverty studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank in Washington D.C. “We can do better, we’re not doing better and that’s discouraging.”
Related: U.S. poverty rate drops for the first time since 2006
The official poverty line was $23,283 last year for a family of four. Today’s Census report — known as the supplemental poverty measure — takes into account living costs in different parts of the country as well as what government benefits people receive. The supplemental poverty line varies between urban and rural America. For example, the poverty level in major metropolitan levels is $30,000 or even higher in some locations because people have to pay more for food, shelter and transportation.
This more detailed look at poverty reveals an even uglier picture in some states. California’s official poverty rate was 16% last year. Under the supplemental measure, its poverty rate is 23.4%. In other words, the high cost of living in California outweighs the government benefits poor Californians receive. Florida, New York and 10 other states saw their poverty rates rise between the official and supplemental measures.