Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases two reports that measure poverty.

The first official poverty measure dates back to President Johnson’s 1964 “War on Poverty” and estimates the population of the nation’s poor in terms of cash resources. The Office of Economic Opportunity established the methodology for counting the poor, and the Census Bureau published its first data using the poverty measure in 1967.

The second measure, called the supplemental poverty measure (SPM), uses data on noncash benefits from the government in addition to cash resources to estimate poverty. The Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics first published data from the Supplemental Poverty Measure in November 2011, after decades of efforts to improve the estimates.

So for the past three years, the Census Bureau has published two sets of national poverty estimates: one uses the official measure and one uses the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

Here is a further breakdown of the differences: 

how census measures poverty infographic image [Source: U.S. Census Bureau]