(Photo: U.S. National Archive)
But the most striking thing was this:
But some 20% of households had no cash income of any kind last year, up from 15% in 2007, the year the recession began, and up from 7% in 1990.
That’s partly because most household heads who were receiving food stamps were also out of work. Just 21.8% of them had jobs in 2010, while 19.8% were jobless and looking for work.
SNAP covered 18.6 million households including 40.3 million people in 2010, and 20 percent of those households—3.7 million—had no cash income. The average SNAP benefit, by the way, is $287 per month, maxing out at $668 for a family of four. And even those households with other income averaged just $731 of income per month.
A 2010 New York Times article looking at the same phenomenon explained that food stamps:
...have taken on a greater role in the safety net for several reasons. Since the benefit buys only food, it draws less suspicion of abuse than cash aid and more political support. And the federal government pays for the whole benefit, giving states reason to maximize enrollment. States typically share in other programs’ costs.
(h/t Susie Madrak)