Fewer people relying on food stamps
The trend is a sign that the average American household's finances are improving.
This post comes from John W. Schoen at partner site CNBC.
As the lingering impact of the Great Recession slowly recedes, so are the numbers of American families who rely on government help to put food on the table.
After a surge in 2008, government spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, has peaked and begun falling, according to an analysis of the latest data by the research institute Center on Budget Policy and Priorities. So have the number of participants collecting SNAP benefits.
Apart from easing the burden on the government's budget, the decline is a sign of improvement in the average American household's financial footing.
"In the past food stamps participation has been something of a leading indicator, so it may mean that the economic recovery is being felt more broadly," said Dottie Rosenbaum, a CBPP senior fellow and co-author of the analysis. "To the extent that it is because people's economic circumstances have improved, that's the role it is intended to play and we think that's the main reason it is coming down."
Government benefits like SNAP and unemployment insurance are supposed to act as "shock absorbers" for the economy, dampening the impact of severe downturns like the Great Recession.
In addition to easing the financial pain for households at the bottom of the economic ladder, they help blunt the wider impact of the drop in consumer spending that accompanies high levels of unemployment.
SNAP is available to families and individuals based on their resources, income level and size of their household. To qualify, individuals have to have gross income of less than $1,245 a month; for a family of four, the maximum allowable gross income is $2,552 a month. As of last November, average benefits in the 50 states ranged from a low of $214 a month in Minnesota to a high of $445 a month in Hawaii, according to the CBPP report.
Benefit levels were increased in 2009 under the Recovery Act, part of the government's stimulus program after the Great Recession.
"SNAP is a very good way of delivering economic stimulus because low-income people spend rather than save," said Rosenbaum. "That's what makes the program a good bang for the buck stimulus."
Now, as benefit levels revert to lower levels and fewer families qualify, the impact on the federal budget is easing. Overall SNAP spending roughly doubled from 2007 through last year, peaking at 0.5 percent of gross domestic product. That level is expected to keep falling as the economic recovery continues.
The drop in participation is widespread; some 47 states have seen cuts in their SNAP rolls, which peaked nationally at nearly 48 million. But participation levels vary widely based on average state income levels.
In Wyoming, where roughly 2 percent of household incomes are below the poverty line, roughly 6 percent of the population is in the SNAP program. Roughly 1 in 5 people participate in SNAP in Mississippi, the state with the highest poverty rate.
More from CNBC
Food Stamps are one of the most abused and wasteful social program this country has ever developed. A family of four receives more money monthly then my family of five spends a month on food. The amount paid out each month should be cut by at least one third. Purchases by food stamps should be (if not already) restricted to the following: Fresh/frozen non prepared meats & fish, fresh/frozen non prepared vegetables, deli meats/cheeses, canned goods, breads, non sweetened dairy, and non sweetened juices. The following should always be banned, and processes need to be in place where not already, to restrict: Soda, bottled water, power and energy drinks, sweetened juices, coffee, tea, ice cream, candy, energy bars, any pre-prepared meals or sandwiches, snacks/junk food, or any food that is mail ordered or shipped anywhere. If these rules would be followed, and recipients would learn how to shop and properly eat, no one would be hungry and we the taxpayers would save billions.
Tobacco and alcohol should be banned from purchase by welfare funds. No cash should be allowed to be pulled off of any assistance cards except at banks and should be limited to a very low percentage of funds.
Nowhere in this story do they say how dramatic the drop was, or how many people are currently on food stamps. Just what the peak was.
More MSN spin for the Great Obama spin machine. We should just call this the Maytag administration because it is stuck on Spin Cycle.
Must of been lots killed in Chicago and other foostamper rat cities.
Or since they are too dumb and lazy to even buy their own food without ebt, maybe we need to bottle and spoon feeds the rats also.
The article doesn't mention how much food stamp use has declined because it hasn't.
Also, I know 5 (five) people in my state that intentionally signed up for food stamps that made over $45,000 per year just to prove how easy it was to get the stamps and prove that very few, if any people are checked out. The program is advertised nationally as a "come and get it" liberal program sought after by the Obama administration that has worked well for the "do nothings" at the usual expense of the honest tax payers. Surfer Dude in California is the poster child for this out of control, miserably run federal program, but he is only one of millions scamming the system and real Americans.
By the way, all 5 citizens went back to the food stamp people and confessed what they had done, and they found out that there wasn't a way to repay the state for their "test". All 5 have put their money with interest in an escrow account waiting for the state to figure out what to do. Imagine, the state apparently never thought anyone would scam the system!!!
Face it, Social Services (charity, state & mental health) is considered a field employing people to hand out rations & conduct interventions...Dirty secret -- many times the employees are getting paid more than the department/charity has to hand out,making handouts just a sideline to employing a group of people......The director wages/benefits amounts are presented misleadingly as well with gifts/bonuses coming from other sources. Additionally, the social worker staffers are frequently making more money annually than the director but this is buried in the small print.......
Discrimination in services offered is common in some cities, with unfavored persons given incorrect information on available assistance & run around between multiple charities. Scary but some of the emergency response charities getting the biggest amounts of government funding do not assist everyone who walks in the door..........sometimes the guidelines regarding who qualifies for assistance are grey and subjective.
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