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Record number of people reliant on food stamps goes over 13 months

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The figures show a nation struggling to get by. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, the highest number of American household reliant on food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP has remained consistent for 13 long months.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In fact, enrollment in SNAP has remained over 47 million during those 13 months.

The USDA, which oversees the food stamp program reports that in August 2012, 47,102,765 individuals were enrolled in the SNAP program. Enrollments never fell below 47 million in subsequent months. As of August of this year, the figure stood at 47,665,069, representing nearly one out of every seven people in America.

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Since January 2009, the number of individuals on food stamps has skyrocketed from 31.9 million to 47.6 million.

The SNAP program has typically been the most responsive federal program after unemployment insurance in assisting families and communities during economic downturns.

While enrollment in the program slowed down last year, the numbers of those still enrolled remains at an all-time high. Some critics claim that SNAP enrollment has not declined in tandem with the recent decline in the unemployment rate. This indicates most of SNAP's enrollment growth of recent years is not related to the economy.

In truth, SNAP enrollment remains high because the job market remains weak.

As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently observed, the recent reductions in the unemployment rate overstate the improvements in the labor market since the economy hit bottom,. Most tellingly, the proportion of the adult population with a job (the employment rate) has barely improved since the depth of the recession.

In addition, the number of unemployed workers who aren't receiving any unemployment insurance benefits - the group of the unemployed most likely to qualify for SNAP because they have neither wages or employment benefits - has continued to grow and is higher now than at the bottom of the recession. 

Even as the overall number of unemployed workers has declined, the number of unemployed workers not receiving unemployment benefits has increased.

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