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SPM unit's threshold


SPMTHRESH is a 22-digit floating point variable.


SPMTHRESH records the poverty threshold used to calculate the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) for a family. Unlike the official poverty measure, SPM threshold are based on consumer expenditures on food, clothing, shelter and utilities (FCSU) and updated to reflect changes in family spending.

The base SPM threshold is calculated for a two-adult, two-child family, and distinguishes between families that rent, own their home with a mortgage, or own their home without a mortgage (available in SPMMORT). The threshold is then adjusted to reflect the number of adults and children in the family using an equivalence scale (available in SPMEQSCALE). The SPM definition of family poverty units differs from the family units used to calculate official poverty rates; SPM family units are identified in SPMFAMUNIT. SPM thresholds are further adjusted to reflect geographic differences in the cost of living (recorded in SPMGEOADJ).

For more information on the calculation of SPM thresholds, see the Census Bureau's "The Research Supplemental Poverty Measure" report.


SPMTHRESH is comparable across years from 2010 to 2018.

In 2019, the Census Bureau implemented a new processing system to accommodate survey changes. These changes affect income and relationship variables, making poverty measurements before and after 2019 incomparable. For more information on this overhaul, see our guide to the 2019 ASEC updates.


  • All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2010 – 2020 - - X - - - - - - - - -


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