After a winter lull, food stamp participation in Los Angeles County picked up again in March, to rise to a new all time high of 1,036,078 persons. Other economic data points to weakness in the nation’s largest state economy, as well. Indeed, falling tax collections are largely behind the recent budget deficit blowout of 16 billion dollars. And to think: many thought the years of California’s “budget crisis” were behind us. | see: Los Angeles County SNAP Users vs. Price of Oil 2007-2012.
As always, included in the chart is the monthly price of oil for the obvious reason: car dependent Southern California remains uniquely and painfully exposed to oil prices. This cost of living input is a feature, and is embedded, in all aspects of the food stamp program. Mainly, because the household balance sheet of SNAP participants is splayed between food and energy costs. Food stamps partially offset the rising cost of gasoline. –Gregor