Are nearly 50 million Americans on food stamps?

As part of my series analyzing the article suggesting that Obama has changed the economy for the worse, let’s now move on to the sixth claim: that nearly 50M Americans are on SNAP (food stamps).

According to the Food and Nutrition Service, ~43M Americans (~13% of population) are on SNAP.
This number (both absolute and percentage) has been declining steadily since it peaked ~48M (~15%) immediately following the recession. It seems like a real stretch to call 43M “nearly 50M” so I suspect the author is either sensationally rounding up and/or intentionally using years-old figures because they better fit his narrative. As such, I rate his claim FALSE.

Still the absolute number and percentage are much higher than historical norms – 10 years ago only ~27M Americans (~9% of population) were on SNAP – so why is that?

Analysis by the Congressional Budget Office suggests that ~20% of the increased enrollment in SNAP is due to expanded coverage introduced during the first month of Obama’s presidency but that the remainder is due to the economy. The CBO projects that SNAP enrollment will return to pre-recession in ~6 years:

Note that this CBO analysis is from 2012 – but that the number of SNAP participants has indeed fallen as predicted since then.

CONCLUSION: SNAP enrollment increased during the recession and in accordance with expanded coverage in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It is now falling to pre-recession norms but slowly. Given the previous evidence of the general health of the economy and job market, I would conclude that the aftermath of the recession is disproportionately affecting lower-income Americans.

Published by Bryan Guido Hassin

These are the musings of a global cleantech entrepreneur. This blog began as a way to document my experience during the IMD MBA in Switzerland and now is the place where I publish eclectic thoughts on business, politics, fitness, entertainment, travel, wine, sports, and . . . whatever else is top of mind.

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