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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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More Americans find themselves in poverty
Hope Yen, Associated Press

January, 2011

A new preliminary census formula has found that the number of  Americans living below the poverty line in 2009 was higher than  previously calculated, especially among the elderly and those  living in the western United States, the Associated Press  reports.

 The revised formula calculated the overall poverty rate in 2009  to be 15.7 percent, or 47.8 million people -- a considerable  increase from the official 2009 rate of 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million. In terms of demographic group, the largest increase  was seen among Americans aged 65 and older, whose poverty rate  rose from 8.9 percent to 16.1 percent. The number of adults  between the ages of 18 and 64 living below the poverty line also  increased, especially among whites and Hispanics. Children,  blacks, and unmarried couples were less likely to be considered  poor under the revised measure.

 The increase can be attributed to new considerations in the  formula such as adjustments for geographical variations in cost  of living; out-of-pocket medical expenses; transportation, com-  muting, and childcare costs; and other factors. According to the  revised formula, the poor are most likely to live in the suburbs,  the Northeast, and the West. Indeed, nearly 20 percent of the  population in the West is considered poor under the revised for-  mula. However, if out-of-pocket medical costs were removed from  the equation, poverty at the national level would have dropped  from 15.7 percent to 12.4 percent.

 The current census formula is based on the cost of an emergency  food diet in 1955 and does not factor in other living costs or  non-cash government aid when calculating income. The official  poverty rate, which has long been criticized by economists for  only including pretax cash and not factoring in medical, trans-  portation, and work expenses, will remain unchanged. The new  figures will be published as a supplement for federal agencies  and state governments to use in determining antipoverty policies.

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