News Release

Clarity on Poverty Measure

DIANA M. PEARCE
Pearce is the director of the Center for Women’s Welfare and is currently on the faculty of the School of Social Work at the University of Washington.

She said today regarding reports of changes in how poverty is measured: “While change in the outdated federal poverty measure is long overdue, caution is in order regarding the Department of Commerce’s announcement of the new Supplemental Poverty Measure. What it WILL do is tie the poverty measure to American living standards, so over time it will rise as they do, and not fall behind as is the case with the current measure. But it won’t raise thresholds very much, and may even lower them in less expensive areas such as rural counties or the South. And it won’t raise the poverty count very much, because it will take account of benefits, like EITC [Earned Income Tax Credit] and food stamps, that we don’t count right now. And it only takes account of what people actually spend for health care and child care, not what they need to have to secure adequate health care and child care. It is a step, but only a step, and still leaves a need for a measure that takes into account all the needs of a family, including not only food and housing but also health care, child care, taxes and tax credits. That would require a measure like the Self-Sufficiency Standard.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167