Statement: The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) rate in 2020 was 9.1 percent which, compared to 2019, is 2.6 percentage points lower for 2020


The Supplemental Poverty Measure, unlike the official poverty measure that is based only on cash resources, uses cash resources and noncash benefits and subtracts necessary expenses (e.g. taxes and medical expenses). The SPM estimates reflect post-tax income including stimulus checks. The statement is true

So, what created this change? Most credited is Social Security. In anti-poverty efforts, The Cost of Living Adjustment for 2020 increased social security benefits by 1.6% (how COLA adjustment is calculated). In 2020, Social Security moved 26.5 million individuals out of poverty. 

Other key factors to lowering SPM were the covid-19 relief stimulus payments that moved 11.7 million people out of poverty and unemployment benefits that prevented 5.5 million people from falling to poverty, as noted by the U.S. Census Bureau in the 2020 report of the SPM. Other facets of the shift can be seen in the figure to the right like SNAP, SSI, and energy assistance like LIHEAP

For the full 2020 Supplemental Poverty Measure report, look here


Bureau, US Census. “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the U.S.: 2020.” The United States Census Bureau, 14 Sept. 2021,

Bureau, US Census. “The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2020.” The United States Census Bureau, 14 Sept. 2021,