State by State Poverty Rankings
The current federal poverty measure is widely considered outmoded. It is based on a 1960s-era formula that established poverty as three times the subsistence food budget. Much has changed since the 1960s. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in the 1990s developed a method for measuring poverty that considers a wider variety of family expenses, including food, clothing, shelter, child care and medical costs. It also includes other income such as tax credits or non-cash income such as Food Stamps. Using a Census tool and the NAS formula, CLASP calculated the poverty rate in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The below chart shows three poverty rankings for each state: the first is based on the current federal poverty measure; the second is based on a modern National Academy of Sciences recommended measure; and the third is the NAS measure adjusted for geographic differences in housing costs. This chart is part of the CLASP Measure by Measure report.
- Current poverty measure: Developed in the 1960s, based on a poverty threshhold three times a subsistence food budget and only updated for inflation.
- NAS poverty measure: Based on median spending on food, shelter, clothing and additional needs for a family of four, includes other cash sources such as tax credits, and is adjusted for expenses such as child care and medical costs.
- NAS w/GPDA poverty measure: Uses the NAS measure as a baseline but also considers a geographic price difference adjustment (GPDA) to account for differences in housing costs.