Monday, August 22, 2011

Rising enrollment in food stamps helps to counter effects of the Great Recession

Enrollment in the food stamps program in Colorado (formally known as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) rose 28 percent from 2007 to last year, mirroring trends across the nation, according to an analysis The Urban Institute released today. The analysis finds states with big increases in unemployment during the Great Recession also had big increases in food stamp enrollment.

There are lots of ways to unpack the numbers on rising enrollment in public benefits programs like SNAP. On the one hand, Colorado's enrollment increase is much lower than that recorded in most other states. The national increase during that time was 69 percent. On the other hand, more than half of Coloradans who are eligible to receive food stamps are not enrolled in the program. Colorado ranks 49th among the states for the proportion of residents who are eligible but not enrolled in food stamps. Find details in our annual look at jobs and economic security, the State of Working Colorado.

Here's a look at the change in food stamp enrollment across the nation.

Also, The Urban Institute's fact sheet includes data through only 2010, while the number of Coloradans enrolled in food stamps has continued to rise since then. As noted in the latest edition of Colorado Recovery Watch, "The increase in usage during the recession and into the recovery is more than 85 percent, an increase that signals a large number Coloradans continue to experience economic hardship."

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