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Poverty - Below 100% FPL

The official poverty measure has been used to estimate the national poverty rate from 1959 onward. The measure is used to create income thresholds that determine how many people are in poverty. Income thresholds by the official poverty measure are established by tripling the inflation-adjusted cost of a minimum food diet in 1963 and adjusting for family size, composition and the age of the householder. 

The Census Bureau also provides data using ratios that compare the income levels of people or families with their poverty threshold:

  • A household income above 100% of their poverty threshold is considered “above the poverty level.”
  • Income above 100% but below 125% of poverty is considered “near poverty.”
  • Households with incomes at or below 100% are considered “in poverty.”
  • Household incomes below 50% of their poverty threshold are considered to be in “severe” or “deep poverty.”

The official poverty measure provides guidance for government poverty policy and programs. The official measure thresholds are the basis for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty guidelines which determine government program eligibility.

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