EMBARGOED UNTIL: 12:01 A.M. EDT, AUGUST 10, 1998 (MONDAY) Public Information Office CB98-136 301-457-3030/301-457-3670 (fax) *REVISED* 301-457-4067 (TDD) e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Mary Naifeh 301-457-3213
Poverty Transitory Condition for Many, Chronic Condition for a Few, According to Census Bureau A new report released today by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau, using seven different measures of poverty, concludes that being poor in America is a transitory condition for many and a chronic condition for a smaller percentage of the population.
According to the report's author, Mary Naifeh, "Most people who experience poverty generally escape it within a few months." The embargoed report can be accessed on the Internet at . After the release time, go to .
In 1994, approximately 55 million people, representing 21 percent of the nation's population, were poor for at least two consecutive months; in 1993, the figures were 56 million and 22 percent, not statistically different from the 1994 figures, according to the report, Dynamics of Economic Well-Being, Poverty 1993-1994: Trap Door? Revolving Door? Or Both? "Although the similarity in these estimates of the number of poor and poverty rates may suggest to some that poverty is a chronic condition, the reality is quite different," said Mary Naifeh, the report's author.
"For example, the proportion of people who were poor at some point during one of these calendar years (about 22 percent) was four times greater than the proportion who were poor every month of both calendar years (about 5 percent)." "Among those who became poor at some point during the 36 months of interviews, one-half were poor for less than 5 months." The seven measures of poverty, defined in the report, are: average monthly poverty rate, episodic rate, the chronically poor, the annual rate, poverty spells and poverty entry and exit rates. The first four are static measures; the last three, dynamic.
To illustrate the complexity of gauging poverty, the report describes poverty in the United States as a whole and differences in the rates among various subpopulations (i.e., race and age groups) using each of the seven measures. The report summarizes the results, highlighting the differences among the population subgroups. These data are from the Survey of Income and Program Participation. As in all surveys, the data are subject to sampling variability and other sources of error.
A faxed copy of the eight-page report may be obtained by calling the Public Information Office's 24-hour Fax-On-Demand service on 1-888-206-6463 and request document number 1314. -X-
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