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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.

    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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