The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released new data Friday for its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, and the numbers may not bode well for any recovery from the collapse of the U.S. economy.
According to the figures, there were 47,710,324 Americans enrolled in SNAP in the month of September. This statistic is up more than 600,000 from the month prior when there were 47,102,765 participants in the program. Household participation also increased from 22,684,463 in the month of August to 22,973,698 in September.
In September, there were one in 6.5 people in the country that were on food stamps.
On a per person basis, the average monthly benefit slightly jumped to $134.29 and for households it also went up to $278.89. In total, the program is costing the American taxpayers $6.4 billion per month, which is up from $6.2 billion.
The USDA noted that the figures include disaster assistance, but the reported numbers did not take Hurricane Sandy into account.
When looking at individual states with more than one million users, there are 13: Arkansas (1.1 million), California (3.96 million), Florida (3.3 million), Georgia (1.9 million), Illinois (1.86 million), Michigan (1.8 million), New York (3.07 million), North Carolina (1.66 million), Ohio (1.8 million), Pennsylvania (1.8 million), Tennessee (1.3 million), Texas (4.03 million) and Washington (1.1 million).
The number of SNAP registrants has soared from 33.4 million since 2009 when President Barack Obama entered office. The costs have also skyrocketed by more than $20 billion since 2009 to $74.6 billion.
This news comes as Newark Mayor Cory Booker began his food stamps challenge, which has received criticism from his opponents. CNN’s Christina Romans said food stamps are supposed to be utilized as a “supplement” rather than using it as your only food intake.
Speaking to Piers Morgan on Friday, Booker responded that he has met many individuals and families that are struggling to make ends meet because their annual income is rather low and don’t have the necessary benefits.
“There are many families — and I talked to a group of security guard workers yesterday who make seven dollars and change, don’t have health care benefits, so if they get sick, they have to either take days off of work and lose that money, or work through the sickness, who don’t have retirement benefits, who find it hard at the end of the month to pay their rent, to buy their food, and are struggling,” said the rising Democratic star.
“She may think its a supplemental program, but for many Americans who are working even, this is the difference between going deep into food insecurity, not being able to provide for their families, and having a bridge to stability.”
Earlier last month, Senate Republicans claimed that under the current president, food stamp growth is actually 75 times greater than job creation – for each person that gains a job, 75 more people are adding to the food stamp enrollment list.
“Simply put, the President’s policies have not produced jobs. During his time in office, 14.7 million people were added to the food stamp rolls,” said Alabama Republican Senator and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee Jeff Sessions in the report. “Over that same time, only 194,000 jobs were created — thus 76 people went on food stamps for every one that found a job.”
A study conducted by the Congressional Research Services (CRS) and the Senate Budget Committee in October found that welfare spending has grown by 32 percent since 2008 and total federal and state spending has hit the $1 trillion mark. Welfare spending now accounts as the largest federal expense in Washington and is more than the national defense, Medicare and Social Security.
ZeroHedge noted Friday that since the economic collapse in 2007, 21.8 million Americans have reallocated their time to the entitlement line (data configured when amassing disability, food stamps and non-farm payroll data).
Furthermore, cuts to food stamps could be part of any deal in the fiscal cliff negotiations between Republican lawmakers and President Barack Obama. Virginia Republican Congressman Eric Cantor has been pushing hard for significant reform to SNAP and has claimed that by eliminating waste and fraud it could save taxpayers as high as $20 billion over a 10-year period. Democrats countered, though, that it would only save $2 billion.
As Economic Collapse News reported last week, the youth unemployment rate remains to be high, while part-time jobs are increasing due to many factors, such as weak economic growth numbers and Obamacare. These could be major factors in upcoming SNAP statistics.