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Separate thresholds for "farm" and "female-householder" families were eliminated.

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The Census Bureau issues the poverty thresholds, which are generally used for statistical purposes—for example, to estimate the number of people in poverty nationwide each year and classify them by type of residence, race, and other social, economic, and demographic characteristics.

The Department of Health and Human Services issues the poverty guidelines for administrative purposes—for instance, to determine whether a person or family is eligible for assistance through various federal programs.

Farm thresholds were raised from 70 to 85% of the non-farm levels.

In 1981, further changes were made to the poverty definition.

Different procedures were used for calculating poverty thresholds for two-person households and persons living alone.

Annual updates of the SSA poverty thresholds were based on price changes in the economy food plan, but updates do not reflect other changes (food is no longer one-third of the after-tax income).

"Relative poverty" can be defined as having significantly less income and wealth than other members of society.

Therefore, the relative poverty rate is a measure of income inequality.

This measure recognizes poverty as a lack of those goods and services commonly taken for granted by members of mainstream society.

Almost two-thirds stayed in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program and the other third were living on the street, in an abandoned building, or another place not meant for human habitation. In June 2016, the IMF warned the United States that its high poverty rate needs to be tackled urgently by raising the minimum wage and offering paid maternity leave to women to encourage them to enter the labor force.

For comparison, the 2011 HHS poverty guideline for a family of 4 is ,350.