The official poverty rate for 2020 has been determined to be 11.4 percent, meaning a single percentage point increase from the 2019 rate of 10.5. While this marks the first increase in this poverty statistic after five consecutive declines, a closer look—i.e. the Supplemental Poverty Measure 2020 report—paints a slightly different picture.
The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) takes into account “government programs designed to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure.” Put another way, the SPM reflects post-tax income, including stimulus payments.
The SPM rate for 2020 was 9.1. percent, which is about 2.6 points lower than what was reported for 2019. This potentially means that, as pointed out by the Washington Post, millions of people were lifted out of hardship in 2020.