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U-M Poverty Expert Delivers Statement to Bipartisan Congressional Commission

David Johnson, research professor and director of the University of Michigan Panel Study on Income Dynamics at U-M’s Institute of Social Research, delivered a statement on February 9th to the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking, a bipartisan Congressional commission charged with examining evidence-based policies that maximize public investment and improve lives.

Johnson addressed the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM), a measure of poverty adopted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2011, which creates a more complete statistical picture of poverty, incorporating additional items, such as tax payments, work expenses and in-kind benefits in its family resource estimates. The SPM is issued alongside the official U.S. poverty measure, which was initially developed in the 1960s.

In his testimony, Johnson noted the importance of common protocols and common accepted statistical indicators, and stressed the country’s need for reliable and trustworthy statistics on the economic well-being of the nation. Recommendations to the commission include:

  • Including a statement that the Office of Budget and Management (OMB) should continue to support and funding to the Census and Bureau of Labor and Statistics to produce the Supplemental Poverty Measure alongside the official poverty measure.
  • Encouraging statistical agencies to use the integration of survey and administrative data to improve the measure of resources and thresholds in the Supplemental Poverty Measure, and in national statistics more generally.
  • Including a statement supporting statistical analysis and research at statistical agencies.

View the full testimony
David S. Johnson

Testimony co-signers include:
Rebecca Blank (University of Wisconsin – Madison), Sheldon Danziger (Russell Sage Foundation), Kathryn Edin (Johns Hopkins University), Irv Garfinkel (Columbia University), David Grusky (Stanford University), Michael Laracy (Annie E. Casey Foundation), Luke Shaefer (University of Michigan), Timothy Smeeding (University of Wisconsin – Madison), Laura Speer (Annie E. Casey Foundation), Jane Waldfogel (Columbia University), Renee Wilson-Simmons (National Center for Children in Poverty, Director), Christopher Wimer (Columbia University), James P. Ziliak (University of Kentucky)