SNAP enrollment remains near record levels, even as the unemployment rate has fallen by half. About 45.4 million Americans, roughly one-seventh of the population, received nutrition aid in October 2015. Unemployment was 5% that month. The last time joblessness fell to that level, in April 2008, 28 million Americans used food stamps.
Several reasons explain the phenomenon. Governments have made it easier to sign up for the program and done a better job of outreach to eligible people. More than 85% of eligible SNAP recipients took assistance in 2013, compared to 70% in 2008. The higher sign-up rate accounts for 8.6 million more people on SNAP – about half of the program’s total increase.
The uneven recovery has also swelled the ranks of long-term unemployed and even for those with jobs, pay may be lower than in the past. In real dollars, SNAP recipients in 2014 had net incomes of $335 a month, the lowest since at least 1989.
Source: Albuquerque Journal, 2/4/16, SNAP Numbers Still High