About 1 in 7 in U.S. Receive Food Stamps

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Economic Crisis, US News

Sara Murray
Wall Street Journal
May 4, 2011

Growth in the food stamp program appeared to reach a plateau in February — with 14.3% of the population relying on the safety net program.

The number of food stamp recipients was essentially flat in February, the most recent month available, with 44.2 million Americans receiving benefits, according a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (See a sortable breakdown of the data here.)

The food stamp program ballooned during the recession as workers lost their jobs or saw their hours and income reduced. The rise in recipients has begun to flatten in recent months, which may mean that as the economy is improving fewer Americans are seeking to join the program. Enrollment in the program is still high though, with 11.6% more people tapping benefits in February than the same month a year earlier.

Food stamp numbers aren’t seasonally adjusted though, meaning a variety of factors could influence the monthly tallies and the program could grow again in coming months.

Mississippi and Oregon were among the states with the largest share of the population utilizing food stamps in February: At least one in five residents in each state were receiving benefits.

Wyoming had the lowest rate of recipients with just 6.6% of the state’s residents using food stamps.

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