Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Food Stamps

An article in the WSJ yesterday notes that--in 2010--over 70% of households using the food stamp program (more correctly, SNAP) had no earned income, whatsoever. Given the state of the economy, this may not seem very surprising, particularly when the numbers of people receiving Social Security benefits in some form are figured into the mix:
Nearly 21% of households on food stamps also received Supplemental Security Income, assistance for the aged and blind. Some 21.4% received Social Security benefits. Just 8% of households also received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the cash welfare program.
The article also provides a handy interactive map, which allows us to see the total number of residents on food stamps and the percentage with no earned income, by state:

From the map, we find that the six states with the highest percentage of food stamp recipients with no earned income are: Massachusetts (80.5%), Kentucky (78.1%), New Jersey (77%), Connecticut (76.6%), Florida (76.2%), and New York (75.1%). The most obvious correlation here is the number of Northeastern states in the top-tier group: four of six. What does that mean?

But what about unemployment numbers, in comparison to these? We might think that where unemployment is particularly high, these numbers would also tend to be high. A map of unemployment by State from August, 2010 (seems as good a month as any), courtesy of the Kaiser Foundation:

Notice anything? Sure enough, Kentucky and Florida are in the group of States with high unemployment. But so are States like California, Michigan, Georgia, and Illinois. And our Northeast bloc of States is in the middle group, when it comes to unemployment. The expected correlation is not there, at all.


Cheers, all.

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