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Community Research Institute

Defining Poverty: The Census Bureau uses Poverty Thresholds, which is a set of money income thresholds that vary by family size and composition. If a family’s total income is less than the threshold, then that family and every individual in it is in poverty. These thresholds were derived in the mid 1960s using USDA food budgets and data about what portion of income families spend on food. These thresholds are updated annually using the Consumer Price Index. These are not the same (although similar) as the DHHS poverty guidelines, which are used to determine participation in many government programs.

Earnings (from work before taxes), unemployment compensation, Social Security, pension income, rents, royalties, trusts, education assistance, alimony, child support, public assistance, and Supplemental Security Income are used to compute poverty status. Public housing, Medicaid, and food stamps, and capital gains and losses are not included when computing the poverty definition.

The poverty thresholds are updated each year using the change in the average annual Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

MSA
2008
2009
2010
 2011
2012
Des Moines, IA 9.2% 10.1% 9.9% 11.1% 12.3%
Madison, WI 10.9% 12.8% 11.8% 12.6% 12.7%
Peoria, IL 10.9% 13.0% 12.4% 15.0% 13.8%
Evansville, IN-KY 15.4% 13.4% 13.6% 14.3% 13.8%
Nashville, TN 12.3% 13.3% 15.4% 14.7% 14.0%
Indianapolis, IN 11.5% 13.7% 14.8% 14.1% 14.3%
Fort Wayne, IN 10.6% 13.5% 12.8% 16.1% 15.1%
Rockford, IL 12.8% 17.1% 17.7% 18.2% 15.2%
Lexington, KY 14.9% 16.4% 18.8% 17.3% 15.7%
Chattanooga, TN-GA 13.1% 17.7% 16.0% 17.6% 15.8%
South Bend, IN-MI 14.3% 16.3% 15.5% 18.0% 16.3%
Grand Rapids, MI 14.4% 14.8% 16.4% 14.7% 16.5%
Dayton, OH 12.8% 14.7% 16.3% 17.6% 16.9%
Kalamazoo, MI 15.7% 19.5% 19.1% 20.8% 18.1%
Toledo, OH 15.8% 16.9% 17.4% 20.2% 19.9%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey

Chart showing poverty in 2012 as presented in the table above.