49.1 million.  That’sthe new number of how many millions of Americans are living in poverty from thenew Supplemental Poverty Measure report provided by the Census Bureau.

The Bureau’s new poverty supplement shows a much morecomplex model of determining poverty figures taking into account expenses the originalmeasure didn’t account for when created in the 1960s.  The new census measure includes the expensessuch as increased costs of childcare, medical expenses and an increase in thestandard of living.

By using the new measure, 16 percent of Americans (49.1 million) live in poverty. Those numbers are up from the 15.2 percent (46.2million) released in September by the Bureau.

The largest increases in Americans who are living in povertyare those 65 or older, who have higher medical costs.  The official 9percent that was announced in September has been increased to 15.9 percent after the new measure.

Those who are considered in the working-age adults range, ages18-64, also saw a spike in poverty from the official 13.7 percent to the new15.2 percent after the new measure was taken. The main reasoning behind povertyin this age is the cost of commuting and child-care.

With the new measure taking into account medical expenses,commuting and child care costs; it also takes into account key government policies that alter the disposable income available to families. These programsinclude in-kind public benefit programs such as the Food StampProgram/Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). These programs allowfamilies who qualify to free up their earned resources to spend on nonfood items for theirfamilies. The poverty rate would have risen to 17.7 percent if we didn't have programs like SNAP. 
This new measure is still in progress, with the Bureau needing to add additional data before it can publish more information. It is alarming, though, that 49.1 million people in the United States are living under conditions where their income–even combined with public assistance programs–isn't enough.
If you'd like to read the entire report, check it out here. Let us know in the comment section what you think about poverty in the U.S. and how can we all work together to end it. 

Author

Maegan Clark

Maegan Clark loves social media even more than Southern sweet tea. She is currently pursuing her master’s in public administration and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a specialized study in public relations. Since working at Heifer, she has deepened her appreciation for the urgency with which we must end global hunger and poverty.