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Observations from the Interagency Technical Working Group on Developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure

Since the official U.S. poverty measure was first published in 1964, there has been continuing debate about alternative approaches to the measurement of poverty. Recognizing that alternative statistics can provide useful information, the Office of Management and Budget‟s Chief Statistician formed an Interagency Technical Working Group on Developing a Supplemental Poverty Measure including representatives from BLS, the Census Bureau, the Council of Economic Advisers, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, and OMB. The Working Group was charged with developing a set of initial starting points to permit the U.S. Census Bureau, in cooperation with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to produce a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). The new supplemental measure would be published initially in the fall of 2011 at the same time and detail as the 2010 income and poverty statistics that contain the official poverty measure, and annually thereafter. The President‟s 2011 Budget proposes resources to support this activity in the budgets of the Census Bureau and the BLS. Although the outcome of the 2011 appropriations process is unknown, developing and estimating an SPM will take substantial advance work and planning and the Working Group‟s observations are meant to assist the Census Bureau and the BLS in such planning.

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