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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Federal Poverty Measure

As fears about the weakening economy continue to grow, the call for modernizing how the nation measures poverty has taken on new urgency. A poverty threshold is the minimum level of income deemed necessary to achieve an adequate standard of living.  Those making less than this level are considered to be living in poverty.

The current measure sets the poverty threshold at $21,200 for an individual, a figure that advocates say does not accurately reflect the contemporary costs of meeting basic needs. The current poverty measure omits such key expenses as transportation to work, child care, and state and local taxes. Nor does it include on the positive side a variety of non-cash benefits on which low-income families rely, such as food stamps, housing assistance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit.

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