For more than a decade, the Census Bureau has been developing an alternative poverty calculation that is intended to better reflect the costs of basic living expenses and the resources people have to pay them. The bureau has just released the results for 2010 using the alternative metric, called the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM). This measure incorporates a wider range of additional data, including medical expenses, tax credits, non-cash government benefits (such as food stamps, housing subsidies and school lunch programs) and cost-of-living adjustments for different geographic areas.

The official poverty rate for Hispanics is 26.7%, second only to African-Americans, at 27.5%. Considering the additional factors used in the SPM, the Hispanic poverty rate rises to 28.2% and the poverty rate for African-Americans falls to 25.4%.

The alternative measure is not intended to replace the official poverty measure, at least for now. The Census Bureau will report two sets of numbers for the foreseeable future. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.