National Poverty Center
How does the United States measure poverty? The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the Census Bureau. The thresholds represent the annual amount of cash income minimally required to support families of various sizes. The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years. The thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation. A family is counted as poor if its pretax money income is below its poverty threshold. A sampling of the poverty thresholds for 2010 is included in the table below. SOURCE: U.S. Poverty guidelines are a simplified version of poverty thresholds and are issued by the Department of Health and Human Services to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. How many people were poor in 2010? In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons lived in poverty. How has poverty changed over time? SOURCE: U.S. SOURCE: U.S.