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SNAP Benefits update: Food stamps increase while the labor market improves

Despite unemployment reaching an all-time low this year, spending on food stamps has remained high.

Despite the economy’s progress, spending on food stamps is roughly double what it was before the pandemic.

Food Stamps Increase

In February 2020, approximately $4.5 billion in food stamp benefits were distributed. Spending increased dramatically in response to the coronavirus and continues to be extremely high.

Total distributions reached approximately $9.3 billion in September of last year, more than doubling their pre-pandemic level.

The Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative organization based in Florida, blamed emergency allotments in a report released on Tuesday. These are supplements to food stamp benefits that were introduced early in the pandemic and are still being distributed despite the economy’s low unemployment rate.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was boosted by emergency allotments, which increased the SNAP benefit to the maximum level for all households, regardless of income.

Proponents of the policy argued that it would help poor families get through the worst of the pandemic as unemployment skyrocketed, but now some are questioning why the program has been extended until 2023 despite the economy’s recovery.

The entire emergency allotment program in the country is set to expire in February, so all SNAP recipients will be unable to claim them in March. FGA urged against any action to bolster or expand the supercharged food stamp program beyond its current levels once March arrives.

Read more: Gold is rising as investors anticipate a slower pace of Fed rate hikes

SNAP Benefits Expire

 

snap-benefits-update-food-stamps-increase
Despite unemployment reaching an all-time low this year, spending on food stamps has remained high.

SNAP establishes maximum benefit levels for families with no income. According to Angela Rachidi, a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, the benefit is gradually phased out as household income rises.

The emergency allotments ensure that all households receive the maximum amount of assistance.

Another benefit increase occurred in April 2021, when the Department of Agriculture announced additional increases of up to $95 for households that did not qualify for the original boost because they were already at the maximum level when the emergency allotments arrived.

Ryan Young, a senior economist at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said he has been surprised by the level of benefits received by many food stamp recipients, even after accounting for cost-of-living adjustments.

During the pandemic, total enrollment in the food stamp program increased. Enrollment increased by 13% from 36.9 million in February 2020 to 41.7 million in September of last year.

However, by recent historical standards, this increase is not massive: more people were receiving benefits as recently as 2017.

Read more: Inflation relief payments: Feds make billions dollars available to Americans; Will it happen again this year?

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