The USDA United States Department of Agriculture is the main federal government organization that oversees SNAP food stamps. The agency is reporting that the number of Americans on this benefit program has decreased about 5% year over year as of July 2017.
While it is impossible to say the exact reason for the decline, the decline will be caused by one of two things. We expand on the two of them below.
(1) The improving economy. The unemployment rate is down to low 4%. Anyone that wants a job can get one as of 2017, and employers have been literally begging for qualified workers for a few years now.
(2) More work requirements. States are enforcing an employment requirement for anyone on SNAP food stamps, and the fact is many people were abusing the system and they are now being forced off it due to the work requirements.
The trend line has been also down since 2013. As of July 2017, the USDA reports 42.6 million are in SNAP. That is down 5% from July 2016. The number on SNAP was 47.6 million in 2013, and that was the all time high. So the July 2017 number is actually a 10% decline from 2013.
The USDA as well as the Center on Budget and Policy project that if the economy stay strong (like it has been for the last 3-4 years) food stamp usage will decline by 1-2 percent per year. That is if nothing else changes…such as budget cutbacks or more work standards. So the trend continues to be down.
There are between 20 to 25 states that have put back into place the original work requirements that SNAP called for. Those states are now requiring that beneficiaries need to work at least 80 hours per month, or they need to enroll into school or a job training program. If they do not do that, and have proof of it, then their food stamps will stop or be denied. If they do not take those steps within 3 months then benefits are at risk.
Another reason for a decline (but we did not highlight as it is complete speculation) may be that states are preparing for future reductions in federal government spending. As some of the budgets floating around out there call for ~$10 billion in cuts to SNAP, so states may be preparing right now and enforcing application requirements. They may also be adhering to the able-bodied concept, in which people need to work. For anyone that has been impacted, find how to get help with food stamp denials.
If budget cuts do come down the pipe, then it is estimated that as many as 8 million people may be kicked off the SNAP rolls. Or they may have their monthly allotment cut. This will equate to up to a 20% further reduction in enrollment. But those changes would not take place until 2018 or later.
Main reason for reduction
While as we stated, it is impossible to tell the exact reason for the recent five percent decline in usage, there is some evidence that indicates it is more work related than anything else. For example, some parts of Georgia have had a 60%+ decline, and Kansas as well as Alabama have had over 75% declines. The reductions took place right after the work requirements were started…so that is a strong correlation.
Based on that data, while the improved economy does play a part, it leads us to believe that the job and/or work training played a bigger part. So this more than likely means there was extensive abuse in the system, which is very sad. Now those people are being cut and forced to work! Which is good for America.