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Poverty is tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau following guidelines established through the U.S. Office of Management and Budget. These guidelines establish a matrix of money income thresholds that vary based on family size. These thresholds are adjusted annually using the Consumer Price Index to compensate for inflation, but the thresholds do not change based on geography. Regarding decennial census data, the poverty threshold is the same across the nation. If a family's total income is below the established poverty threshold, they are considered to live below the poverty level or in poverty.

Poverty is based on income, household size and relationship. Income considered for determining poverty is money income before taxes. Capital gains and noncash benefits, such as food stamps or medicaid, are not counted as income. The population considered for determining poverty is not the total population of an area. Persons living in group quarters, such as military barracks, college dorms, or long-term health care facilities, are not considered when determining poverty. Unrelated persons under the age of 15 in a household, such as foster children, are also not considered when determining poverty.

The decennial census poverty data is based on the poverty thresholds used at the time the information was collected and compiled. Annually adjusted poverty thresholds are used to produce poverty data through the Current Population Survey.

View recent poverty thresholds.