Neil Shah reports, in the Wall Street Journal, that food stamp usage (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]) is down in the United States. Although “food-stamp use remains high, historically speaking”:
There were 46.2 million Americans on food stamps in May, the latest data available, down 1.6 million from a record 47.8 million in December 2012. Some 14.8% of the U.S. population is on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, down from 15.3% last August, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.
According to the data, there were 3.0% fewer SNAP participants in May 2014 than in May 2013. In Rhode Island, the reduction over that same period was 1.3%.
In Rhode Island in May, 178,110 people were participants in the SNAP program. That’s 16.9% of the population, according to the latest estimate of the U.S. Census, That’s 2.1 percentage points higher than the number for the United States as a whole. Rhode Island has the 14th highest SNAP usage in the country. Only Maine is higher, in New England. (New Hampshire’s at 8.4%, while Connecticut and Massachusetts are both between 12% and 13%.)
It’s interesting, though, that Rhode Island’s reduction of SNAP participants has been so much slower than the national average, given the employment boom shown in Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. I’ve asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture if it provides previous monthly estimates of SNAP participation. It’d be interesting to see how that’s changed month to month.