The measuring tool for poverty has been recalibrated and the new calculation shows a success story for Arkansas which is often cited for its high poverty level. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation uses a U.S.
Census Bureau calculator that factors in state and federal assistance programs, something the official federal poverty measure doesn’t do.
In Arkansas, those programs meant 132,000 fewer children were in poverty between 2011 and 2013. The associate director for policy reform and advocacy at the Casey Foundation, welcomes the new data. “We know this is a really important measure and we need to get better, being able to track how many kids are living in economic deprivation in our country,” she says.
Another note about the official federal poverty measure, it was created nearly 50 years ago. The report calls for further development of the Census Bureau tool to reflect county-level data. “The numbers can be fragile as program funding is cut or access is limited. Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure we can really see the successes and the limitations of the safety-net resources we’ve put into place,” she says. “We can also see that these resources don’t go far enough.”
The report estimates child poverty costs the country $500 billion a year in lost productivity and earnings, including costs related to health and crime.