About the poverty & income data

  • Assessing the confidence interval for the percent or rate is one approach to determine whether there are differences over time. If they do not 'overlap' then they 'differ.' Although it is not a 'true' statistical test, it is a commonly accepted way to compare percentages or rates and tends to be more conservative than statistical testing.
  • A confidence interval for a rate is a measure of reliability. In this analysis, 90% confidence intervals were calculated. A 90% confidence interval is the interval within which the true value of the rate would be expected to fall 90 times out of 100.
  • Unless otherwise noted, differences between groups described on these poverty & income pages are statistically significant. A difference, increase, or decrease is indicated as "statistically significant" when the 90% confidence intervals for percentages do not overlap. There are no confidence intervals available for the measure of median household income.
  • American Community Survey estimates are based on a sample of the population and not a full count of every person like the census. However, American Community Survey estimates are typically more current than the most recent decennial census (e.g., 2010 U.S. Census).
  • Sometimes, American Community Survey estimates need to be aggregated across 5 years, in order to have a large enough sample size (number of people) to examine differences by variables like county or race and ethnicity.
  • There are some disadvantages to the official poverty measure (the Census Bureau's poverty threshold) used to identify people living in poverty:
    • It does not reflect non-cash governmental benefit (such as housing subsidies, home energy assistance, or the "SNAP" food stamp program).
    • It does not include some expenses such as child support payments, transportation, or other work-related expenses necessary to hold a job.
    • It does not adjust for geographic differences in prices across the nation or variation in medical costs depending on insurance coverage.