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Who is Poor? New Federal Poverty Guidelines Released Today

News Release
February 16, 2001

The federal government released the 2001 Federal Poverty Guidelines in today's issue of the Federal Register. The poverty guidelines, sometimes loosely referred to as the "federal poverty level," define who is officially considered "poor." The guidelines are adjusted up each year to account for inflation.

State and federal agencies use the guidelines to determine eligibility for a range of programs to assist the poor, such as National School Lunch Program, Legal Services, Food Stamps, and the Oregon Health Plan. The guidelines are not used for the state's cash assistance welfare program, called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or for determining eligibility for the federal or state earned income credits.

"The increase in the federal poverty guidelines makes more people immediately eligible for the Oregon Health Plan, the Child Health Insurance Plan, and the Family Health Insurance Assistance Plan," said Charles Sheketoff, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

"A true test of government efficiency and Oregon's commitment to providing health coverage to those in need will be the speed at which state officials change their program rules and start using the new guidelines. They have the tools to implement the new guidelines immediately through temporary rules, and they ought to do so," Sheketoff added.

The Federal Poverty Guidelines are based on the size of the family and are applicable to the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia; the federal government sets different guidelines for Alaska and Hawaii. "The poor" are families with incomes at or below the poverty guidelines. While the term is not officially defined, "low income" often means families with incomes at or below 200 percent (twice) the poverty guidelines.

Federal Poverty Guidelines, 2001

Family Size

Yearly Income

Monthly Income

Hourly Income

1

$8,590

$716

$4.13

2

$11,610

$968

$5.58

3

$14,630

$1,219

$7.03

4

$17,650

$1471

$8.49

5

$20,670

$1,723

$9.94

6

$23,690

$1,974

$11.39

7

$26,710

$2,226

$12.84

8

$29,730

$2,478

$14.29

Over 8 add for each child

+$3,020

+$252

+$1.45

Source: Federal Register Vol. 66, No. 33, February 16, 2001, pp. 10695-10697. Monthly and hourly figures calculated by the OCPP and rounded to the nearest dollar and cent, respectively. The hourly rate is based on 40 hours of work per week for a full year (2080 hours).

For additional information, past years, or to view data for Alaska and Hawaii, visit the HHS Poverty Guidelines, Research, and Measurement page.

The 2001 Federal Poverty Guidelines have been adjusted for inflation over the last year. The following are last year's 2000 guidelines for comparison:

Federal Poverty Guidelines, 2000

Family Size

Yearly Income

Monthly Income

Hourly Income

1

$8,350

$696

$4.01

2

$11,250

$938

$5.41

3

$14,150

$1,179

$6.80

4

$17,050

$1,421

$8.20

5

$19,950

$1,663

$9.59

6

$22,850

$1,904

$10.99

7

$25,750

$2,146

$12.38

8

$28,650

$2,388

$13.77

For each additional person add $2,900 (yearly), $242 (monthly), $1.39 (hourly).

Source: Federal Register, Vol.65, 2/15/2000, pp. 7555-7557. Monthly and hourly figures calculated by the OCPP and rounded to the nearest dollar and cent, respectively. The hourly rate is based on 40 hours of work per week for a full year (2080 hours).

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