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Poverty Measure

The Poverty Research Team is responsible for the development of the NYCgov Poverty Measure. The alternative NYC poverty measure, in comparison to the official U.S. measure of poverty, includes a threshold that accounts for the higher cost of housing in New York City. Additionally, it incorporates the value of programs intended to alleviate poverty; adjusting family incomes for benefits such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The work has received nationwide attention and contributed to development of the Federal Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The New York City Government Poverty Measure, 2020

Cover of the NYC Government Poverty Measure 2005-2019 Report

The latest NYC Opportunity annual report on poverty updates the NYCgov Poverty Measure for New York City in 2020. This year’s report, which covers the first year of Covid-19, provides less robust poverty data than past reports because of significant pandemic-related limitations in data collection in 2020.

The NYCgov poverty measure that this report contains each year is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey (ACS) supplemented by city, state, and other national data. The 2020 ACS survey, however, was suspended for several months, and the overall response rate was lower, and uneven across demographic categories.

To compensate for these problems, the Census Bureau issued a set of “experimental” one-year data. Making cautious use of that data, this report finds that the poverty rate fell by 0.8 percentage points in 2020, a statistically significant drop that seems plausible in light of the temporary aid New York City households received. Because of the data problems, the trend’s trajectory (a notable decline in poverty) is more reliable than the actual rate.

Technical Notes Forthcoming

Past Poverty Reports and Technical Appendices

CEO's first working paper on poverty in New York City, issued in August of 2008, contrasted poverty rates for 2006 derived from CEO's application of the NAS methodology against those based on the official method. The 2010 report focused on how and why poverty rates using our methodology have changed over time, using the one-year ACS samples for 2005 to 2008.

The CEO Poverty Measure