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Better Measurement Shows More NH Kids Lifted Out of Poverty

PHOTO: Modernizing the formula used to measure poverty in America can help mitigate child poverty and improve the effectiveness of government safety net programs, such as tax credits and social security, concludes a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo courtesy Maine Children's Alliance.
PHOTO: Modernizing the formula used to measure poverty in America can help mitigate child poverty and improve the effectiveness of government safety net programs, such as tax credits and social security, concludes a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Photo courtesy Maine Children's Alliance.
February 25, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - It's the first major update of how to measure poverty since the 1960s, and a report out today suggests a more accurate way to calculate the poverty line.

The report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation says when the effects of government anti-poverty programs are factored in, more than 11 million children were lifted out of poverty nationwide, between 2011 and 2013.

Ellen Fineberg, executive director with New Hampshire Kids Count, says those programs also helped drop the child poverty rate from 20 percent to 11 percent in the state, over that three-year span.

"So, the difference between those is 25,000 children who would be considered living in poverty, if it weren't for those supplemental federal programs," Fineberg says.

Fineberg says the Supplemental Poverty Measure also takes into account cost-of-living variations between regions. It was created by the Census Bureau in 2011.

The Casey Foundation's associate director for policy reform and advocacy Laura Speer says a big reason for the update is the government index sets a uniform poverty level at $24,000 for a family of four. She says the cost of living in many parts of the country can drive the real poverty line up to twice that amount.

"We know this is a really important measure and we need to get better, being able to track how many kids are living, really, in economic deprivation in our country," Speer says.

Fineberg says this more modern measure of the poverty line should help make the case for continued funding of programs like SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

"There are people who question the value and the impact of these federal programs," says Fineberg. "The hard data says 'yes,' these kind of subsidies really do make a difference to families and children."

Nationwide, the Casey Foundation also finds, despite the progress, there are still 13 million kids who live below the poverty line.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH