People who get food stamps outnumber women who work full time
Here's a statstic that, taken by itself, doesn't really say much. More American are recieving government assistance for food via the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps) than there are women working full time.
In the average month of 2012, according to the Department of Agriculture, there were 46,609,000 people participating in the food stamp program (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). That contrasts with the 44,059,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in 2012, according to the Census Bureau’s report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.
For each woman who worked full-time, year-round in 2012, there was slightly more than 1 other person collecting food stamps.
The significance of those two, seemingly unrelated stats comes into focus when you track both over the years:
In 2013, the average number of people on food stamps increased to 47,636,000. The Census Bureau will not publish its report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage for 2013, which includes the data on women working full-time, until September.
The Department of Agriculture’s website lists the annual average number of food stamps participants going back to 1969. That year, there were only 2,878,000 people on food stamps. Since then, food stamps participants have increased by 44,758,000—or about 1,552 percent.
In 1969, there were 15,678,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States. Through 2012, their numbers had increased by 28,381,000—or about 181 percent.
Since 1969, there have been three years when the number of Americans taking food stamps outnumbered the women who worked full time, year-round. In 1976, there were 18,549,000 food stamps participants, and only 18,372,000 women working full-time. Then, in 2011, there were 44,709,000 food stamp participants and 43,702,000 women who worked full-time. (The Census Bureau has not published data for the number of women who worked full-time, year-round in 1974.)
So far, 2011 and 2012 are the only back-to-back years on record when the number of Americans taking food stamps outnumbered the women working full-time year-round.
That 1552% increase in food stamp recipients since 1969 shows just how much Congress has changed the eligibility requirements for the program. And those changes reflect how much the economy, the family, and opportunities for women have changed in the last 45 years.There are fewer good paying jobs that pay a "living wage" - in Chicago, it takes a job paying $20.35 an hour to keep a family of 4 above the poverty level. A single mother has little chance of escaping poverty and more than 4 million of them and their children need assistance.
The number of female headed households continues to increase. While statistics show that being married gives a family a far better chance of escaping poverty, the number of poor women who marry continues to fall. The correlation between those receiving SNAP benefits and the total number of working women will continue to worsen as long as good paying jobs remain scarce and and families continue to break apart.
Perhaps that's the way to look at these two statistics - a barometer of the social health of US families. And it's not a pretty picture.