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The Division of Price and Index Number Research (DPINR), U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), released the 2020 and 2019 revised Research Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) Thresholds on September 3, 2021. These thresholds incorporate the changes approved by the ITWG SPM on September 30, 2020 and described on the main DPINR SPM webpage (See https://www.bls.gov/pir/spmhome.htm). The SPM is meant to provide an alternative perspective for examining poverty and is, therefore, meant to complement rather than replace the official poverty measure (see the Census Bureau website for the most recent official poverty statistics). The SPM is a work in progress and is expected to incorporate improvements over time, like those introduced with the production of the 2020 thresholds. A time series of Research SPM Thresholds for 2005 through 2019, using the same methodology, is available on the DPINR SPM website. Also on the website, and below, are thresholds for 2020 and 2019 (revised) produced using the methodology that incorporates the changes approved by the ITWG SPM on September 30, 2020.
As seen in Chart 1, the 2020 SPM thresholds for consumer units with two adults and two children are $29,959 for owners with mortgages, $25,222 for owners without mortgages, and $30,150 for renters, as compared to the official poverty threshold of $26,246 (for two adults two children). The thresholds for owners with mortgages and renters are not significantly different. In contrast, the thresholds for owner with mortgages are statistically significantly different from those for owners without mortgages (at the 0.1 percent level). Thresholds for owners without are also statistically significantly different than those for renters at the same level.
In order to determine if the 2020 thresholds are statistically different from those for 2019, and not different due to the change in methodology, new 2019 thresholds were produced using the same methodology as for the 2020 thresholds. We refer to the new 2019 thresholds as “2019 revised”. Chart 2 includes the 2020 SPM thresholds along with those from 2019 revised for comparison. As shown in Chart 2, the 2020 SPM thresholds are higher than those for 2019 revised. The thresholds for 2020 are statistically significantly different than those for 2019 revised at the 1 percent level for owners with mortgages, owners without mortgages, and renters.
Last Modified Date: September 3, 2021