Hispanic Poverty Rate Highest In New Census Measure
November 23, 2011 by Chiara Austin
The Census Bureau released a new way to measure poverty levels earlier this month that shows more Hispanics lived in poverty than any other group in 2010. The new rate measured Hispanic poverty at 28.2% compared to the official poverty rate for this group at 26.7%.
When using the official poverty rate, there were more blacks living in poverty in 2010 than Hispanics or any other group. Even so, regardless of which measure is used, the report shows that Hispanics make up nearly three-in-ten of the nation’s poor.
This alternative measure of poverty—called the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM)— is intended to better reflect the costs of basic living expenses and the resources people have to pay them. It uses a wider range of factors than the official federal measure to determine poverty status.
Some of these additional factors include medical expenses, tax credits, non-cash government benefits (such as food stamps, housing subsidies and school lunch programs) and cost-of-living adjustments for different geographic areas. The alternative measure is not intended to replace the official poverty measure, at least for now. For the foreseeable future, the Census Bureau will report two sets of numbers.
Here are the most notable points from the report:
- Compared with the official measure, SPM figures show a higher national poverty rate for 2010, 16.0%, compared with the official poverty rate of 15.2%.
- The number of poor people in 2010 was 49.1 million using the alternative measure, compared with 46.6 million using the official measure.
- Among the nation’s largest racial and ethnic groups, poverty rates using the alternative measure are higher than official poverty rates for Hispanics, non-Hispanic whites and Asians, but are lower for blacks.
- Hispanics: the SPM poverty rate (28.2%) was 1.5 percentage points higher than the official poverty rate of 26.7%.
- Whites: the SPM poverty rate was 11.1% while the official poverty rate was 10.0%.
- Asians: the SPM poverty rate was 16.7% versus the official poverty rate of 12.1%.
- Blacks: By contrast, the SPM poverty rate for blacks, 25.4% in 2010, was 2.1 percentage points lower than the official poverty rate of 27.5%.
Adapted from a Pew Hispanic Center article published on 11/8/2011 by Mark Hugo Lopez, Pew Hispanic Center Associate Director, and D’Vera Cohn, Pew Research Center Senior Writer.
To see the full report click here.