Thurston County has continued to see an increase in the number of individuals living in poverty. According to the 2012 to 2016 American Community Survey data, 12.0% of Thurston County's population lived below the federal poverty level, up from 8.8% in 1999.
Federal Poverty Thresholds
The federal poverty thresholds are an estimate of the minimum income needed for a household to meet its basic needs. The threshold varies based on the number and age of people in the household. The threshold does not vary by location — poverty levels in Thurston County are the same as in Seattle.
The original threshold was set at the cost of a minimum food diet in 1963. The poverty level is adjusted for inflation each year.
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.