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View Diary: Food Stamp Usage Hits New Record (311 comments)

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  •  How The Poverty Line is Calculated (3+ / 0-)

    I wrote a diary last week discussing how the poverty line is calculated:

    I think most people assume, as I did, that it's some carefully calibrated number that reflects a minimal cost of living in a small apartment, with enough food to get through the month, some transportation, etc. Not at all.

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    In the 1960s, an employee at the Social Security administration noted that food was roughly 1/3 of a family after-tax budget. So, she used USDA's Economy Food Plan guidelines to put together a shopping cart of groceries for various family sizes, multiplied that by three, and voila! A figure for a minimium income.

    Since then, it has been scaled by the CPI, a number that explicitly excludes food and energy costs as 'too volatile', but is instead based on a calculated relative value of various goods, mostly long-term goods like washing machines and new cars.

    The number is the same for San Francisco, California, and Fargo, North Dakota.

    The income threshold for food stamps is a gross income of 130% of the poverty line, and a net income (with certain deductions) of 100% of the poverty line.

    In 2009, the poverty line for a family of 4 is $22,050. It is shocking to hear how many kids qualify under this standard.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Nov 07, 2009 at 08:40:19 PM PST

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