Non-Market Incomes Kept Nearly 40 Million People Out of Poverty Last Year

The Census released its supplemental poverty data yesterday. I have added the data to my Poverty Calculator over at

On the transfers front, I find that non-market incomes kept 38.7 million people out of poverty last year. Without them, the supplemental poverty rate would have been 27.9% rather than 15.5%. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities produces a similar figure each year and came up with 28.1% as the poverty rate when non-market incomes are stripped out. As in prior years, the CBPP's figure is slightly higher than mine. I assume they go about identifying market and non-market incomes slightly differently than I do, and that this accounts for the (fairly insignificant) difference.

If you calculate the SPM poverty rate using only the incomes that the official poverty rate uses (and excluding taxes), you get a poverty rate of 18.7%. This means the taxes and transfers not included in the official poverty rate account for a 3.2 percentage point poverty reduction. Put another way, the taxes and transfers omitted by the official measure accounted for (roughly) around 25% of the poverty reduced by transfers last year.

Here is how many people each program not counted in the official measure kept out of poverty last year (click on the number to go to the poverty calculator comparison and get a better break down):

As always, transfers are doing a pretty solid job here, and this list is not even including the bigger transfer programs like Social Security. If you want to reduce poverty further, it can be done very simply by just increasing the level of poverty-reducing transfers.