Inflation adjustments have been made for each year of data collected and are based on the Consumer Price Index, drawn from current and historical data found here.
Poverty Population Map
Poverty population data is calculated at both the 100% and 125% of the federal poverty level, sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Poverty estimates were not available for 2001-2004, so these charts begin in 2005.
Inequality is based on the GINI Index of Income Inequality, calculated by the U.S. Census, and is a measure of statistical dispersion intended to represent the income or wealth distribution of a jurisdiction’s residents, and is the most commonly used measurement of inequality.
Calculation of Legal Aid Need
Determining the amount of legal aid funding necessary to meet all legal aid needs compared to actual legal aid funding available requires both 1) a determination of the number of low-income households in need of legal aid, and 2) calculation of the average cost of legal aid services required by these households.
Determining low-income households in need: The 2022 Justice Gap Report published by the Legal Services Corporation found that 74% of low-income households, defined as being at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level, experienced at least one civil legal problem in a given year. The number of households at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level can be calculated using U.S. Census data for individuals in poverty (above), divided by the average number of persons per household in a given year as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Calculating average cost of needed legal aid services: The most recent report prepared by the ABA Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service found that attorneys spent an average of 49.8 hours on their recent pro bono case in the areas of law identified by the Justice Gap Report as being most common among low-income Americans. The value of this average case can be calculated using the average hourly rate for attorneys provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and adjusting for inflation in prior years.
Comparing available vs. needed funding: For any given year, the aggregate national legal aid funding amount is divided by 74% of the number of households at 125% of the Federal Poverty Level to determine how much funding, on average, is available to every household in need of legal aid services. The resulting amount is then compared to the inflation-adjusted average cost necessary to meet the legal aid need.