The Most Important Thing to Remember About America’s Food Stamp Boom

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Jordan Weissman
The Atlantic
March 29, 2013

The Wall Street Journal is out with a long article today exploring why the number of Americans on food stamps isn’t falling along with the unemployment rate. As of December there were 47.8 million people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, up more than a million over the year. So what’s going on?

It’s a complicated answer, and the WSJ does a good job teasing out the story’s different threads. But I want to focus on the simple part of the issue for a moment, because in the big picture, it’s also by far the most important part. So repeat after me: There are record numbers of Americans on food stamps today because there are record numbers of Americans in poverty (records begin in 1959.)

As of 2011, there were 46.2 million men, women, and children living below the U.S. poverty line. There isn’t much reason to believe that the last year of mediocre job growth has dented that number. And until it plunges, the food stamp rolls are going to stay full — plain and simple.

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This article was posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 at 2:55 pm

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