Report Shows Government Programs Reducing Poverty

On Sept. 6, the Census Bureau released its updated measure of the national supplementary poverty rate, revealing the poverty rate remains at 16 percent.

A comparison of the supplementary measure and the official poverty measure, which is estimated at 15 percent for 2012, offers a more nuanced picture of how benefits and taxes affect Americans.

The supplementary measure attempts to more accurately calculate poverty, taking into account the impact of various social insurance programs, geographic differences, and necessary expenses on families.

The report finds that government programs continue to fight poverty. Without Social Security, the poverty rate would swell to 24.5 percent, as highlighted by Bruce Bartlett in a recent blog for The New York Times. Said differently, one out of every four people would fall under the poverty line if not for Social Security. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), unemployment insurance programs, and housing subsidies also prevent millions of people from falling into poverty.

The report similarly draws attention to the cost of some taxes and expenses on American families. For example, medical out-of-pocket expenses increase the poverty rate approximately three percent.

Source: New York Times

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