Thurston County has continued to see an increase in the number of individuals living in poverty. According to the 2010 to 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) data, 11.9% of Thurston County's population lived below the federal poverty level, up from 8.8% of the population in 1999.
Federal poverty standards are based on general assumptions about a household's basic needs and do not account for regional differences in the cost of living. The Self-Sufficiency Standard, published by the Workforce Development Council of King County, in partnership with the Center for Women's Welfare, is calculated using local data on the cost of specific household needs, such as housing, child care, transportation expenses, and taxes. This more comprehensive standard is higher than the federal poverty level, consequently federal estimates of poverty, including Census Bureau estimates, may underestimate the number of people who are unable to meet their basic needs.