20111031 food pantry groceries poor
Men wait for groceries at the Central Park United Methodist Church weekly food pantry in Reading, Penn. - 

There's a certain necessary arbitrariness in a lot of economic measurements. Somebody's got to decide how much inflation is good and how much is too much. How much unemployment is fine and how much isn't.

Right now, the Census Bureau draws its line in the sand on poverty. It's actually called the poverty line. And if the income for a family of four is below roughly $22,000 per year, the family is officially poor. On November 7, the Census bureau will release new numbers using a more nuanced measure.

David Brancaccio talks about that measure and what it all means on Marketplace.