Bloomberg News

U.S. Food-Stamp Use Rose to Record in November

February 03, 2012

(USDA corrects food-stamp figures reported on Feb. 2. The headline and first two paragraphs were changed to show that usage rose rather than fell.)

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. food-stamp use, which Republicans have cited as evidence of a failing economy, rose to a record in November.

About 46.286 million Americans received aid, up 0.1 percent from 46.225 million in October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an e-mail. Participation was 6.2 percent higher than a year earlier. The government spent $6.22 billion on the program for the month, up 6.9 percent from 2010.

Food stamps have become a theme in this year’s presidential campaign, as enrollment has increased 46 percent since December 2008, a month before President Barack Obama took office. Annual spending has more than doubled in four years to a record $75.3 billion, a level called unsustainable by Republicans including Newt Gingrich, who has labeled Obama “the best food-stamp president in American history.”

Joblessness fell to 8.5 percent in December from 8.7 percent in November, the Labor Department said last month. The January estimate will be released tomorrow.

The number of Americans receiving assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the initiative better-known as food stamps, set records every month from December 2008 until June 2011. The previous record was in September, when 46.268 million Americans received aid.

About 34 percent of food-stamp recipients are white, 22 percent are black and 16 percent Hispanic, with the rest being Asian, Native American or those who chose not to identify their race, according to the USDA, which administers the program. About half are younger than 18, and 8 percent are older than 60. Some 41 percent of all recipients live in households where family members are employed.

--Editors: Daniel Enoch, Steve Stroth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth in Chicago at sstroth@bloomberg.net.


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