Thursday, February 2, 2012


It has been a while since I got in the mode of doing monthly macro-reviews.  This lack of posting the monthly update has been related to my end-of-the-year business cycle as it is my craziest time in my work each December.  In an effort to get back in the swing of things I wanted to check in on the SNAP data which is a Federal summary of the Federal Food Stamps Program.  Each state creates their own rules for the distribution of these benefits, but the bill is paid for by you and me (if you pay taxes!).  I really wanted to focus on this data today because I am working a follow up post that will shed some light on who the recipients of these benefits really are.

In America, we have a tendency to lean only two ways when it comes to federal benefits and entitlements.  One side always thinks that people that receive federal assistance are lazy and simply just sucking off the taxpayer .....well you know what I mean.  The other side seems to want assistance for everyone assuming that the government is there to provide each man, woman, and child all of the things they deserve and should have as their God given right.  This group often goes to extremes and feels strongly that the poorest of the poor should have everything provided.  Personally, I think I'm somewhere in the middle, but I find myself leaning more to one or the other based on how many encounters I have with folks down on their luck.

Before I go any further about that, let me just share the November 2011 data that was just released that shows a continuation (I know, it is small) of the decline of people on the food stamp roles.  We now have two straight months of declines from the peak seen in September of 2011.  This is an important development because this is the first time since January 2007 that we have seen two back to back months of declines in the participation numbers.  This is no small feat, and could be an indication that the US economy, and more importantly the least financially healthy, are making a comeback.


Unfortunately, the monthly decrease has not erased the disturbing trends we saw over the course of the year. The 46,133,787 people in the program is a 4.4% increase over year-end levels in 2010 and this represents a 5.8% increase year-over-year from November 2010.  Clearly these figures are lagging, so it is very important for us to see these trends continue.  The decline in this statistic is a great measure that will suggest that people are getting back to work and standing on their own.  We need this improvement badly for the financial health of the country and the psychological health of the nation.


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