Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Food Stamp Usage Nearing 1 in 7 Americans; Usage up 16.2% Year over Year as Economic Recovery Rolls On

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I could talk about the food stamp issue once a month, but as the "recovery" gains steam, I prefer to only speak about it when we hit important milestones.  Believe it or not, when I began FMMF in 2007, "only" 1 in 11 of our citizens was on foodstamps.  [May 7, 2008: 1 in 11 Americans on Food Stamps]  We passed many milestones during the Great Recession... 1 in 10, 1 in 9 [Jun 8, 2009: 1 in 9 Americans on Food Stamps] ... and finally in the throes of recovery we hit 1 in 8... with 1 in 4 American children in the program.  [Nov 29, 2009: 1 in 4 Children, and 1 in 8 Americans Now on Food Stamps]

I know it is hard to believe in a country where we measure our progress based on how the stock market does, how many Coach bags the average upper middle class woman owns, or what aggregate GDP figures say, but things are pretty awful for a large part of society.  After crossing the 1 in 8 threshold last Thanksgiving, just over a year later we are sniffing at 1 in 7 (which would be approximately 14.25% of all citizens) per the WSJ

The bifurcation of American society continues at pace.   [Nov 10, 2009: Walmart Executive "There are Families Not Eating at the End of the Month"]   Definitely a fascinating society we are creating.... the social implications in the long run are compelling.  We joke about Americans not being engaged and why we do not have protests in the street about what is happening in this country, like those crazy Europeans.  Aside from being busy with the circus (Dancing with the Stars, NFL, et al) ... we are also offered bread.  If you want to see those sort of public movements, take away programs like food stamp.  When the desperation kicks in, you would see some serious game changing fireworks  [Dec 8, 2007: Do the Bottom 80% of Americans Stand a Chance? [Sep 7, 2009: Citigroup - America; A Modern Day Plutonomy]
  • More people tapped food stamps to pay for groceries in September as the recession and lackluster recovery have prompted more Americans to turn to government safety net programs to make ends meet.
  • Some 42.9 million people collected food stamps last month, up 1.2% from the prior month and 16.2% higher than the same time a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
  • Nationwide 14% of the population relied on food stamps as of September but in some states the percentage was much higher. In Washington, D.C., Mississippi and Tennessee – the states with the largest share of citizens receiving benefits – more than a fifth of the population in each was collecting food stamps.

Anyhow, per the 'wealth effect' plan, we're all gonna get rich via the stock market bubble Ben is inflating, so no problemo. [Nov 10, 2010: Who Will Any Form of Intermediate Term Wealth Effect Really Help? Not the Masses]   The irony of my piece on November 10th is borne out by the fact that the 6 of the 10 counties ringing Washington D.C. are the country's richest, as our federal government spend as if there is no tomorrow.  But Washington D.C. itself has more than 1 in 5 citizens on food stamps.

Food Stamp Use, by State

Click on the top of any column to resort the chart.
State    Number of people on food stamps Sept. 2010    Year-over-year change    Month-over-month change    Percent of population on food stamps   
U.S. total 42,911,042 16.2% 1.2% 14%
Alabama 849,785 12.8% 1.2% 18%
Alaska 81,196 15.4% -0.1% 11.6%
Arizona 1,044,410 10.9% -0.3% 15.8%
Arkansas 483,309 8.4% 0.7% 16.7%
California 3,466,974 17.7% 1.2% 9.4%
Colorado 424,878 16.8% 0.1% 8.5%
Connecticut 364,341 22.8% 1.4% 10.4%
Delaware 124,755 21.9% 2.6% 14.1%
District of Columbia 128,759 16.4% 1.7% 21.5%
Florida 2,881,019 25.8% 2.5% 15.5%
Georgia 1,693,976 16.4% 0.7% 17.2%
Hawaii 147,250 15.7% 1.2% 11.4%
Idaho 214,378 39.1% 1.2% 13.9%
Illinois 1,839,051 18.6% 8.5% 14.2%
Indiana 857,992 13.3% 0.6% 13.4%
Iowa 352,164 10.9% 0% 11.7%
Kansas 291,126 18% 0.6% 10.3%
Kentucky 804,538 8.7% -0.1% 18.6%
Louisiana 864,112 10.3% 0.9% 19.2%
Maine 237,530 9.6% 0.1% 18%
Maryland 616,102 20.4% 1.5% 10.8%
Massachusetts 785,435 12.2% 1% 11.9%
Michigan 1,884,751 15.2% 0.4% 18.9%
Minnesota 455,852 17.2% 0.7% 8.7%
Mississippi 601,432 8.7% 1.1% 20.4%
Missouri 928,183 7.9% 0.1% 15.5%
Montana 119,039 15.8% 0.1% 12.2%
Nebraska 169,385 14.5%td> 0% 9.4%
Nevada 314,253 28.7% 1.5% 11.9%
New Hampshire 110,576 20.4% 0.6% 8.3%
New Jersey 690,075 27.2% 1.9% 7.9%
New Mexico 390,154 20.1% 0.6% 19.4%
New York 2,895,995 13.3% 0.8% 14.8%
North Carolina 1,476,207 18.2% 2.3% 15.7%
North Dakota 61,229 7.1% 0.3% 9.5%
Ohio 1,683,877 11.9% 0.8% 14.6%
Oklahoma 613,531 14% 0.9% 16.6%
Oregon 738,702 13.2% 0.7% 19.3%
Pennsylvania 1,644,259 13.2% 0.3% 13%
Rhode Island 150,450 26% 1.3% 14.3%
South Carolina 832,651 11.3% 0.3% 18.3%
South Dakota 99,504 14.9% 0% 12.2%
Tennessee 1,267,478 8% 0.5% 20.1%
Texas 3,837,839 24.6% 0.9% 15.5%
Utah 269,819 25.9% 3.8% 9.7%
Vermont 87,838 7.7% 1% 14.1%
Virginia 826,277 13.8% 0.7% 10.5%
Washington 1,006,518 16.4% 0.8% 15.1%
West Virginia 343,764 5.1% -0.6% 18.9%
Wisconsin 762,287 21.3% 0.6% 13.5%
Wyoming 35,615 17.2% 0.2% 6.5%
Sources: USDA, WSJ Research

[Nov 5, 2010: USA Today: Anti-Poverty Programs Surpass Cost of Medicare in US]
 [May 25, 2010: 1 in 5.5 Dollars of American Income Now Via Government; All time High]
[Oct 22, 2010: Reuters - The Haves, the Have Nots, and the Dreamless Dead]
[Sep 3, 2010: FT.com - The Crisis in Middle America]
[July 26, 2010: [Video] DatelineNBC - America's Increasing Ranks of Poor]

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