The United States determines the official poverty rate using poverty thresholds that are issued each year by the Census Bureau. The thresholds represent the annual amount of cash income minimally required to support families of various sizes.
The methodology for calculating the thresholds was established in the mid-1960s and has not changed in the intervening years. The thresholds are updated annually to account for inflation.
Read more at the National Poverty Center
Learn more: Can Poverty in America Be Compared to Conditions in the World’s Poorest Countries?