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Poverty Measure

The Poverty Research Team is responsible for the development of the NYCgov Poverty Measure. The alternative NYC poverty measure, in comparison to the official U.S. measure of poverty, includes a threshold that accounts for the higher cost of housing in New York City. Additionally, it incorporates the value of programs intended to alleviate poverty; adjusting family incomes for benefits such as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The work has received nationwide attention and contributed to development of the Federal Supplemental Poverty Measure.

The New York City Government Poverty Measure, 2019

Cover of the NYC Government Poverty Measure 2005-2019 Report

The latest NYC Opportunity annual report on poverty updates the NYCgov Poverty Measure for New York City in 2019. This edition of the report provides a picture of poverty in New York City just before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The citywide poverty rate fell to 17.9 percent in 2019 from 19.6 percent in 2015, a decline of 1.7 percentage points that is statistically significant. The share of the population with resources up to 150 percent of their poverty threshold (those who are living in poverty or near poverty), fell in those years from 45.4 percent to 40.8 percent, a statistically significant decline of 4.6 percentage points.

The 2019 poverty and near poverty rates represent the lowest rates in the NYCgov poverty rate series, which began with 2005 data. As such, 2019 represents a peak year in progress against poverty. The lessons learned in reaching that point will be critical going forward, as we continue our efforts to decrease poverty and work towards an equitable recovery in the post-COVID era.

2019 technical appendices available on request


Past Poverty Reports

CEO's first working paper on poverty in New York City, issued in August of 2008, contrasted poverty rates for 2006 derived from CEO's application of the NAS methodology against those based on the official method. The 2010 report focused on how and why poverty rates using our methodology have changed over time, using the one-year ACS samples for 2005 to 2008.


Economic Profile of Immigrants

NYC Opportunity has released "An Economic Profile of Immigrants in New York City," which provides new information about the economic status of New York City's immigrants. This new report examines labor force participation, earnings, poverty rates, and other economic measures for immigrants, broken down by categories of immigrant, including U.S. born citizens, naturalized citizens, and undocumented immigrants.

Learn more in An Economic Profile of Immigrants in New York City In New York City


National Interest

The U.S. Census Bureau released its first research report on the new Supplemental Poverty Measure in November 2011. This effort was informed by the work of the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity, which released its first report on an alternative measure for New York City in 2008. The new Supplemental Measure provides a more realistic picture of poverty by accounting for both families' resources and their expenses. This work is based on the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences.
U.S. Census Report


Learn more

D'Onofrio, Christine, Mark Levitan et al. International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, August 2012
The Status of Women in Poverty Using Alternative Poverty Measures: New York City's Local Area Estimate

Levitan, Mark and Daniel Scheer, IRP Discussion Paper No. 1398-12, November 2011
Effect of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on the New York City Poverty Rate

Levitan, Mark et al. Pathways, Stanford University, Fall 2011
Understanding Local Poverty: Lessons from New York City's Center for Economic Opportunity

Virgin, Vicky in partnership with NYC CEO, June 10, 2011
Creating the CEO Poverty Unit: An Evaluation Using the CPS ASEC

Levitan, Mark et al. Prepared for 32nd Annual Research Conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, November 4-6, 2010
Accounting for Housing Needs in a High Rent City: Poverty Research by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity

Potter, Frank et al. JSM, 2010
Imputation Variance Estimation Protocols for the NAS Poverty Measure: The New York City Poverty Measure Experience

Levitan, Mark and Trudi Renwick, JSM, 2010
Using the American Community Survey to Implement a National Academy of Sciences-Style Poverty Measure: A Comparison of Imputation Strategies

Levitan, Mark et al. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 29(2): 373-386, Spring 2010
Using the American Community Survey to create a National Academy of Sciences-Style Poverty Measure: Work by the New York City Center for Economic Opportunity