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32. 1997 Economic Census
1 Poverty levels for nonfarm families.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Reports, Poverty in the United States, P60-210; and http://www.census.gov/hhes/poverty/histpov/hstpov1.html (accessed 04 January 2001)
* CURRENT POPULATION SURVEY (MARCH ANNUAL DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY)
Approximately 62,500 housing units were eligible to receive the 1995 Annual Demographic Survey. The basic monthly CPS sample of 60,000 housing units was supplemented by 2,500 housing units which had at least one Hispanic member the previous November. In addition, members of the Armed Forces, which are excluded from the basic CPS labor force survey, were part of the elibigle population in March. Because of the CPS sample rotation system, approximately one-half of the sample had been interviewed the previous March.
Interviewers used lap-top computers to administer the interview, asking questions as they appear on the screen and directly entering the responses obtained. With the exception of first and the fifth month-in-sample interviews, when an interviewer usually visited the sample unit, over 90 percent of the interviews were conducted by telephone.
Completed interviews were electronically transmitted to a central processor where the responses were edited for consistency, imputations were made for missing data, and various codes were added. Based on the probability of selection, a weight was added to each supplement-responding household and person record so that estimates of the population by state, race, age, sex, and Hispanic origin matched the population projections made by the Bureau of the Census. Since not every person who provided labor force information completed the supplement and the supplement was asked of members of the Armed Forces, the supplement weights vary from those used for labor force estimation.
Poverty statistics presented in this report are based on a definition developed by Mollie Orshansky of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 1964 and revised in 1969 and 1981 by interagency committees. This definition was established as the official definition of poverty for statistical use in all Executive departments by the Bureau of the Budget (BoB) in 1969 (IN CIRCULAR NO. A-46); after BoB became Office of Management and Budget, this was reconfirmed in Statistical Policy Directive No. 14.
The original poverty index provided a range of income cutoffs or thresholds adjusted by such factors as family size, sex of the family head, number of children under 18 years old, and farm- nonfarm residence. At the core of this definition of poverty was the economy food plan, the least costly of four nutritionally adequate food plans designed by the Department of Agriculture. It was determined from the Department of Agriculture's 1955 Household Food Consumption Survey that families of three or more persons spent approximately one-third of their after-tax money income on food; accordingly, poverty thresholds for families of three or more persons were set at three times the cost of the economy food plan. Different procedures were used to calculate poverty thresholds for two-person families and persons living alone in order to compensate for the relatively larger fixed expenses of these smaller units. For two-person families, the cost of the economy food plan was multiplied by a factor of 3.7 (also derived from the 1955 survey). For unrelated individuals (one-person units), no multiplier was used; poverty thresholds were instead calculated as a fixed proportion of the corresponding thresholds for two-person units. Annual updates of these SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes of the items in the economy food plan.
As a result of deliberations of a Federal interagency committee in 1969, the following two modifications to the original SSA definition of poverty were adopted: (1) the SSA thresholds for nonfarm families were retained for the base year 1963, but annual adjustments in the levels were based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rather than on changes in the cost of foods in the economy food plan; and (2) the farm thresholds were raised from 70 to 85 percent of the corresponding nonfarm levels. The combined impact of these two modifications resulted in an increase in the tabulated totals for 1967 of 360,000 poor families and 1.6 million poor persons.
In 1981 three additional modifications in the poverty definition recommended by another interagency committee were adopted for implementation in the March 1982 CPS as well as the 1980 census: (1) elimination of separate thresholds for farm families, (2) elimination (by averaging) of separate thresholds for female- householder families and "all other" families (earlier termed "male-headed" families) and (3) extension of the detailed poverty threshold matrix to make the largest family size category "nine persons or more." For further details, see the section, "Changes in the Definition of Poverty," in Current Population Reports, Series P-60, No. 133.
The poverty thresholds are increased each year by the same percentage as the annual average Consumer Price Index.
For further information on how the poverty thresholds were developed and subsequent changes in them, see Gordon M. Fisher, "The Development and History of the Poverty Thresholds," Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 55 No. 4, Winter 1992, pp. 3-14.
These tables are based on figures supplied by the United States Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Commerce and are subject to revision by the Census Bureau.
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