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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Redefinition Labels 17% in U.S. Poor

NEW YORK -- The U.S. Census Bureau has begun to revise its definition of what constitutes poverty, and is looking at a formula that would drop millions more families below the poverty line, The New York Times reported Monday.

The new approach would raise the income threshold for living above poverty to $19,500 for a family of four from $16,600, the paper said.

Such a change would mean that 46 million Americans, or 17 percent of the population, would be officially below the poverty line, not the 12.7 percent announced last month, which was the lowest level of the decade, it said.

Sociologists and economists who study what people must earn to escape poverty in the United States put the line even higher than what the Census Bureau is considering, the Times said.

They put the threshold for a family of four at between $21,000 and $28,000, partly because the bureau's figures do not allow for extra cash for emergencies, such as fixing a car, the paper said.