New face of food stamps: working-age Americans

Slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs play big role
Associated Press
Jan 27, 2014

 

In a first, working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps — a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients.

Some of the change is due to demographics, such as the trend toward having fewer children. But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role. It suggests that government spending on the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program — twice what it cost five years ago — may not subside significantly anytime soon.

Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training, a sign that the safety net has stretched further to cover America's former middle class, according to an analysis of government data for The Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky. Formally called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, the program now covers 1 in 7 Americans.

The findings coincide with the latest economic data showing workers' wages and salaries growing at the lowest rate relative to corporate profits in U.S. history.

President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night is expected to focus in part on reducing income inequality, such as by raising the federal minimum wage. Congress, meanwhile, is debating cuts to food stamps, with Republicans including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., wanting a $4 billion-a-year reduction to an anti-poverty program that they say promotes dependency and abuse.

Economists say having a job may no longer be enough for self-sufficiency in today's economy.

"A low-wage job supplemented with food stamps is becoming more common for the working poor," said Timothy Smeeding, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in income inequality. "Many of the U.S. jobs now being created are low- or minimum-wage — part-time or in areas such as retail or fast food — which means food stamp use will stay high for some time, even after unemployment improves."

The newer food stamp recipients include Maggie Barcellano, 25, of Austin, Texas. A high school graduate, she enrolled in college but didn't complete her nursing degree after she could no longer afford the tuition.

Hoping to boost her credentials, she went through emergency medical technician training with the Army National Guard last year but was unable to find work as a paramedic because of the additional certification and fees required. Barcellano, now the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, finally took a job as a home health aide, working six days a week at $10 an hour. Struggling with the low income, she recently applied for food stamps with the help of the nonprofit Any Baby Can, to help save up for paramedic training.

"It's devastating," Barcellano said. "When I left for the Army I was so motivated, thinking I was creating a situation where I could give my daughter what I know she deserves. But when I came back and basically found myself in the same situation, it was like it was all for naught."

Since 2009, more than 50 percent of U.S. households receiving food stamps have been adults ages 18 to 59, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The food stamp program defines non-elderly adults as anyone younger than 60.

As recently as 1998, the working-age share of food stamp households was at a low of 44 percent, before the dot-com bust and subsequent recessions in 2001 and 2007 pushed new enrollees into the program, according to the analysis by James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky.

By education, about 28 percent of food stamp households are headed by a person with at least some college training, up from 8 percent in 1980. Among those with four-year college degrees, the share rose from 3 percent to 7 percent. High-school graduates head the bulk of food stamp households at 37 percent, up from 28 percent. In contrast, food stamp households headed by a high-school dropout have dropped by more than half, to 28 percent.

The shifts in food stamp participation come amid broader changes to the economy such as automation, globalization and outsourcing, which have polarized the job market. Many good-paying jobs in areas such as manufacturing have disappeared, shrinking the American middle class and bumping people with higher levels of education into lower-wage work.

An analysis Ziliak conducted for the AP finds that stagnant wages and income inequality play an increasing role in the growth of food stamp rolls.

Taking into account changing family structure, higher unemployment and policy expansions to the food stamp program, the analysis shows that stagnant wages and income inequality explained just 3.5 percent of the change in food stamp enrollment from 1980 to 2011. But from 2000 to 2011, wages and inequality accounted for 13 percent of the increase.

Several economists say food stamp rolls are likely to remain elevated for some time. Historically, there has been a lag before an improving unemployment rate leads to a substantial decline in food stamp rolls; the Congressional Budget Office has projected it could take 10 years.

"We do not expect income inequality stabilizing or declining in the absence of real wage growth or a significant reduction in unemployment and underemployment problems," said Ishwar Khatiwada, an economist for the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University who reviewed the Labor and Commerce departments' wage data.

Full- and part-time workers employed year-round saw the fastest growth in food stamp participation since 1980, making up 17 percent and 7 percent of households, respectively. In contrast, the share of food stamp households headed by an unemployed person has remained largely unchanged, at 53 percent. Part-year workers declined in food stamp share.

 

Comments

Swiftshot

Where can you apply for food assistance?

Factitious

Try caling:

County Department of Job and Family Services
221 West Parish Street
Sandusky, OH 44870-4886
Phone/Ext: 419-626-6781
Fax: 419-626-5854 TTY/TTD: 419-626-6781 Hours: 8-4:30, Mon-Fri

Online:
https://odjfsbenefits.ohio.gov/S...

pntbutterandjelly

"The findings coincide with the latest economic data showing workers' wages and salaries growing at the lowest rate relative to corporate profits in U.S. history."

That quote pretty well, if not completely, sums up the real issue. Corporations are cleaning up on this man-made imbalance which was generated and supported by the banking institutions who made (and continue to make) record profits off the backs of 99% of Americans.

With each passing generation...new and more diabolical monetary schemes are conceived to wrist power from the masses and give it's riches (money, power/control) to a few. It is blatantly obvious where the problems(s) lay and who has created them.

One day...the naysayers will wake up and see the reality they too have helped the 1%ers lay upon this once great country. When they finally do understand and accept the fact...it will be too late for them as well as those who now feel the crunch of American Capitalistic Greed on steroids.

"New World Order" is at our doorsteps (and it wasn't implemented by the desire, design or will of the masses).

"The findings coincide with the latest economic data showing workers wages and salaries growing at the lowest rate relative to corporate profits in U.S. history."

pntbutterandjelly

"Keep the masses busy, confused and divided." "From there...control is easy."

Unassumer

While most think that those on welfare and food stamps are minorities with cadillacs and fancy nails, the truth is it's white single mothers with small children and families that can't make ends meet working two jobs. By making mothers work 20 hours a week you are forcing them to spend money they don't have on a sitter to go to work and some may not have adequate transportation either. The families that receive food stamps are probably already working but don't make enough to pay for rent, utilities and bills. Also welfare does not just hand out money and food stamps. They verify a person's income and situation before approving benefits. If there happens to be a single mom receiving benefits while living with a boyfriend receiving a paycheck, she is supposed to report his income. If she does not, then she is committing fraud and they will eventually find out. Also, we only each contribute about 7% to fund welfare recipients. So, most of your hard-earned money is going to you, not to other people.

BabyMomma

Those are mudsharks

starryeyes83

Agree

santown419

Like your mom when she left your dad likes chocolate.

donutshopguy

Unassumer,

Why do you think those single mom's don't get married? They would lose the freebies. Single by choice.

It's the new mindset of entitlement.

eriemom

Think of the food stamp program as a business subsidy.

Contango

Re: "Think of the food stamp program,"

Should be thought more like the modern day 'hidden' equivalent of the 1930s breadlines and soup kitchens.

eriemom

Except that we still have these as well.

Contango

Re: "Except (snip)"

Point: The financial crisis has merely been "papered over" with increased debt and money printing.

"The Great Recession" never left.

From the Grave

We can thank whomever it was that allowed all of our manufacturing jobs to leave the country. Not everyone is cut out for a high tech job anyway.

"The world needs ditch diggers" ~Judge Smails

coasterfan

No news with this article, although it does help to quash the usual GOP mantra that food stamp recipients are all lazy welfare queens. Anyone actually paying attention already knew that the majority are children, the elderly or disabled, and a majority are Caucasian. The rise in food stamps is easily traced: hundreds of thousands of jobs lost each month during the final year of the Bush years. It continues to be a problem due to the conservative push for policies that widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

BabyMomma

Damn Bush.retired for over a decade and still gets the blame. I blame Sheriff Gangwer for all of Kyle Overmeyers over sights in Sandusky County then. It's not Overmeyers fault, he inherited a bad department! Lmao. Silly Democraps,

Darwin's choice

Another "blowie" from the obama queen......

Contango

Re: "hundreds of thousands of jobs lost each month,"

Impossible to keep that Paul Krugman desired housing bubble goin' forever.

All credit bubbles eventually end, Sport.

reddog

So many different factors bring people to need food stamps. A mother "choosing to be single" for freebies is a ridiculous response and completely ignores the real problems. Some of the things people on here have to say are shameful, ignorant and unsubstantiated. I hope that there are SOME people out there that understand the complex factors that caused the economy to collapse and the real need to actually put food in the bellies of the children that may someday cure cancer or become president. Sheesh.

mimi's word

My aggravation is that it has become a way for single girls to have kids and not be able to afford them because some one else will help pay for them. How do I know this..I worked at a restaurant that had a baby boom! 5 -6 girls pregnant at the same time and one day I over heard them comparing how to get the max out of all their benefits...NOT ONE had or has the father in their lives but they complain what a terrible father he is!!! Really? who choose him? wasn't a random crap shoot. I also know people on it today that can afford things I can not as a single person...going out to eat all the time...the gifts bought at christmas were outrageous...but because i waited for the picket fence that never showed I continue to bust my hump so they can enjoy...The problem is we do not see the people who are truly struggling...we see the ones who abuse it.

deertracker

Did you even read the article? Your entire post is ridiculous. A restaurant had a baby boom? Restaurants have babies now? While you were at WORK? They did have jobs, right? You choose to only see the abusers. Get it right!

starryeyes83

Made sense to me. Try learning how to read.

Most everybody on here has seen and heard the same thing in their workplace.

BabyMomma

Fact

santown419

That pretty well sums it up if you understand it I thought you sparkling wiggles were to dumb you and your fellow sparkling wiggle miss mamma lied.

Justme...

The rise in single parent household among black AND whites, is contributing HUGELY to the increased need for assistance. That is undeniable.

mimi's word

I know you love to try and paint me as an idiot deertracker but I am not. They did work at the restaurant and decided to try to be moms at the same time because of all the attention. They had waiteress jobs which means you actually have to work to make money and if you are pregnant and collecting benefits you do not have to work and can't get fired if a pregnancy problem. I also know that no matter how you want to word it as soon as you tell someone that you are on any assistance the way you look at the things you do changes. I just found out a friend is on assistance and yet my opinion about her has changed. I don't think I am the only one that sees things in adifferent light when all you see are people who are abusing it. I don't hear about the people who aren't because they do not wear it as a badge of honor or entitlement. You want to make me out to be a jerk go ahead. You are a jerk.

ladydye_5

Deertracker likes to make everyone look bad. Only their opinion matters. The rest of us live in a different world. I see the world YOU live in. Many do wear their entitlements as a badge of honor. With the free healthcare, food stamps, free babysitters, etc. Then they have fancy cars, fancy hair, fancy nails and a Coach purse to put their Iphone in. Those who use it properly, you never see or hear about, and those are the ones I do not complain about.

deertracker

WHATEVER, I WAS SIMPLY RESPONDING TO YOUR POST. It is not my fault you have a problem stating your point in an articulate way. The usual suspects get on here and go on and on about the abusers as if they are the majority on assistance. You guys could not have read the article to leave such comments.

mimi's word

Amazing how you are the only one who didn't understand. I will never believe the majority are not abusers. Just because you qualify doesn't mean you deserve it. Alot of people do not use this as a help or last resort but a I don't want to try this is the easier option.

deertracker

What I don't understand is why you did not comment on the article but used this forum to vent your dissatisfaction with the abusers. You also speak as if you know exactly what is happening in other people's lives based on an overheard conversation from a few at WORK. The article CLEARLY states that most don't want the help even after they are told they may qualify. Your generalizations and judgment of others is clearly based on information you assume. Yes, there are abusers but they are not in the majority. Some people are in need of help but it is no fault of their own doing. That's what the article is about.

mimi's word

I did put my opinion in about the article. I am just tired of reading about another single mother who is struggling even after she joined the service and attended schooling. I also do know what is going on just because I overheard a conversation doesn't mean I was not involved. I was sitting right there while the conversation took place I just chose not to join in because I was the minority! I wasn't sitting next to a door with a glass! I am sorry if I do not empathize or feel sorry for people who are single parents and need help feeding their kids! I did not tell them to be careless and get knocked up by some loser who is not helping them. Why are all the stories about single parents if there are so many elderly and disabled and families on assistance? I just don’t find it settling to know that I have worked up to 5 jobs at one time and still struggle because I did not have any kids and did not have insurance and worked minimum wage jobs to try and pay for everything! I am not assuming anything! I have never said anything about people who by no fault of their own should not receive help! It is the people who have chosen their own road who have fallen and now they get help??? Where is my help? When I didn't have money to keep heat on I got nothing, I had no heat. When I didn't have money for food I worked at a fast food restaurant and took left overs home so I had food. I got several jobs and have worked my youth away and still continue to struggle. So I am sorry if you feel that I have no opinion on the matter I do and I am allowed to have it just like you. I just do not find the need to be nasty to you because your opinion differs from mine.

The Big Dog's back

May God bless you. You'll need it when you meet Him.

mimi's word

Really why?

Darwin's choice

Douchebag, hope you meet him today! Nevermind obama blowie, you'll never get there.

deertracker

Darwin, it is not necessary to call others names and be so hateful. We are all different and can and should have different opinions. Just because you hate the President does not mean the rest of us have to.

Darwin's choice

Sorry there cheerleader, but you fail to see its not the president I'm disgusted by, it's the crap he spews, and sheeple like you eat it up. Our country is going down the chitter, and you act like your right!

mimi's word

I am glad your point is so article appropriate...

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

"I just do not find the need to be nasty to you because your opinion differs from mine."

Lying hypocrite!

deertracker

Mimi, your pride got in the way of you receiving help. It is not a bad thing to need help, especially if you are helping yourself. BTW, I was not nasty to you. I simply pointed out the obvious.

mimi's word

I was raised to fix it on your own...I am sorry we do not see things the same. I understand you do not feel my poinion was article related but others did. I felt very attacked...But at least you are not Think Again...they have decided to follow me to every article I have posted on and tell of how hateful I am! I got a STALKER! (ugh)

reddog

MiMi, I hear that you are very frustrated and it sounds like you have worked very hard and it was very difficult for you. I am here to tell you, though, that any "benefits" any single mom would get from having a child pales in comparison to the actual cost (both monetary and emotionally) of raising that child. Having a child to get "benefits" is like buying lottery tickets to get rich. It never works and the lifelong struggle of the mom and the children is incalculable. I feel very sorry for young women who think this is a "way out." It most certainly is not and most of them will realize that the hard way. In the mean time, there are children brought into this world and they need to eat and have access to basic necessities to simply survive. We can not let someone's naive and stupid actions derail us from the obvious need to care for those who can not otherwise care for themselves.

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

I always enjoy your hateful attitude...I am so glad you know all about being judgmental...

mimi's word

Think again...I am so glad that you have decided to stalk me from article to article. I guess my opinion is very important to you! I am not a hypocrite! I felt that Deertracker was being a jerk to me and was being rude to me when I was stating my opinion so I stated as much. He also did not understand my statements where others did so I am not sure where I am being so hateful but that is fine you are allowed your opinion on the article. HOWEVER you do not know me or any struggles that I have been through to that form my ideas and options. Do not attack me on a personal level that makes you hateful.

xtensionofme

Our daughter has a college degree but has been unable to find any type of work (even BK wouldn't hire her - told her she was over-qualified). She's lost her apartment & is now on food stamps, still trying to find work. Sad

BabyMomma

P.I.B. Will be hiring all sorts of different people. Tell her To fill out an application.

starryeyes83

Even a college degree doesn't guarantee you a job. And then there are those loans.

Justme...

Nothing guarantees a job, but education increases your odds. That's a statistical fact.

ladydye_5

A college degree can sometimes make it worse. They tell you you are OVER qualified. A job is better than NO job.

Justme...

Regardless, a higher percentage of people without degrees are UNEMPLOYED.

starryeyes83

Yep, but there are still those school loans you have to pay back. Many cannot and will never be able to pay them back. So that bubble has already started to burst.

And they still keep pushing to go to school increase your personal debt.

Do they forgive those loans?

mikesee

College loans are not forgiven. They will hound you forever.

starryeyes83

Thank you, I thought so.

donutshopguy

Spent time in the Carolina's for business. Jobs are plentiful down there. Construction is booming. Now homes being built. Jobs for all levels of education.

Sometimes you have to follow the jobs rather than whine about them not being available.

Besides the weather sure is better down there.

Dwight K.

I'm under 30 and receive medical and food stamps and I'm embarrassed by it...I'm disabled too

mimi's word

I hope you understand my comments are not for you. I just know of some who goes out to eat 4-6 times per week, kids are in all kinds of activities, goes on vacations once per year, if not more, and i can barely get by and I work as much as I can 2 jobs most of the time just to get by. I am working my life away with nothing to show for it. it just gets overwhelming to not be somewhat angry

Dwight K.

Oh no didn't think that...believe me I know what you mean people do abuse the systems.

starryeyes83

Dwight K, Your situation is totally different.

Dwight K.

Uh yeah I know that

grandmasgirl

I know of someone who gets all the freebies and baby-sits on the side. You ask why I don't turn her in? Because they don't believe you. YOU can't prove that she is getting paid. YOU can't prove that she works under the table. YOU can't prove that she doesn't have a mental illness. The state doesn't believe that any of these free loaders aren't what they say they are. So you sit here and watch them enjoy life while others bust their butt to survive and all the while you know that abuse of the system goes on and there is nothing you can do about it.

Donegan

After the government gets done driving this bus so far into the ditch we will never recover we will see the headline "Food lines for everyone" The communist love food lines.

The Big Dog's back

Put the bottle down.

Donegan

Your attempted insults only work if the person you are telling them to respects your opinion, As it is I don't.
Now move along your god is going to be on TV to lie to your face and try to insult your intelligence. Good thing your immune, you have no intelligence.

Darwin's choice

^^ THIS ^^ Biggest douche here, right alongside coasterbama.

Donegan

And you reply to me this way why?

deertracker

.....birds of the same feather........................

Donegan

Aren't you supposed to be worshipping right now?

Darwin's choice

reply is to dog.....

I agree with you re big dog.

KURTje

Clearly some posters here haven't been around or they've forgotten. Talk to people 30 & under.

mindyjane283

Wow how quickly this went off track to the blame game. Yes I am on foodstamps, no I don't work outside of the home since having my child but that was because we set down and did the math. Working in retail means I don't have set hours, and I only make so much. My husband works nights so most daycares wouldn't be an option on days where we both work at night would mean she was at a sitters getting picked up after 930, and it would cost more than what I make alone. We made a decision, I would become a stay at home mom, try to find work from home and see if we can't get off this helping hand soon. Its a long drawn out process but I'm trying, we are trying. Funds get cut and we lose money on it, I sigh and try to find more ways to cut the costs, Funds go up, I stock up on things that won't ruin and will last a bit because I know it will go back down again, its the way of the worlds and money flow. We don't buy the name brand items in everything, some of them we have to. But add in that I have an allergy to milk, a child that has my motabolism at that age and a husband that works at a place that doesn't act like it cares about the workers. We are all in the same boat so lets quit pointing fingers and lay off each other. As for those that are doing everythin they can to rip off the government who every you may be remember Karma.

mimi's word

Not to be a jerk but just asking how about having a child when you could more afford one? Call me a jerk or a b!tch or whatever...That is just how I was raised. You don't buy something you can't afford...