How should poverty in America be counted? The Census Bureau uses a calculation that put the number at 39.8 million last year. But a revised formula that lawmakers are considering adds more than 7 million Americans to that number.
If the revised formula is adopted, a more refined picture of American poverty could emerge that would capture the everyday costs of necessities besides food.
A change also could upend long-standing notions of those in greatest need and lead to shifts in how billions of federal dollars for the poor are distributed for health, housing, nutrition and child care.
The Census Bureau on Monday released national and regional estimates based upon the revised formula, as well as variations of the formula, because of the interest expressed by lawmakers and the Obama administration in seeing a fuller range.
The revised formula, based on recommendations from experts at the National Academy of Sciences, shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, comprising nearly 1 in 6 Americans. That’s higher than the 13.2 percent under the current formula used by the government…
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