usually uses year old data, so the poverty picture most recently painted is at least that old. For instance, current poverty statistics use 2009 data. A reliable way of predicting current poverty rates is to use food stamp participation rates. The Federal Food Stamp Program, which was renamed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2008 to remove the stigma, publishes more recent participation data (the latest data is dated December 2nd, 2010). The top 10 states with the highest participation rates are highly correlated with top 10 states with the highest poverty rates. (See the list of 10 States with the highest food stamp participation rates)
It used to be the case that the number of people receiving food stamps doesn’t change dramatically. In 2007 the change in the number of people receiving food stamps was less than 1%. As a result, it didn’t matter if timely data was used. However, with the onset of the recession and persistently high unemployment rates, the situation has changed. In 2010, the number of people receiving food stamps increased by more than 20%, reaching 40.2 million people.
This is unbelievable.
During 2010 6.8 million more Americans had to resort to the federal food stamp program. The rate of increase is very dramatic in several states. The two states with the lowest increase in food stamp participation are also among the top 10 poorest states. This implies that other relatively well-off states are getting worse and catching up with chronically poor states such as West Virginia and Kentucky.
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