In times of recession, millions more Americans may be forced to rely on the nation’s food assistance programs (mostly SNAP, which is still referred to as food stamps) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) in order to maintain health, housing, and ties to the labor market. Yet even in robust economic times, many individuals and families with low incomes or who lose jobs are forced to rely on the same safety net programs.
Here are the numbers. During the Great Recession, the number of UI recipients doubled from 10 million before the recession to 20 million, and the number receiving benefits through SNAP ballooned from 20 million before the recession to 50 million.
Three books from the Upjohn Press (two new) examine these programs, specifically the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and UI, and offer insights on the history, evolution, workings, complementarity, and their current operating state. They look at how SNAP rules can discourage enrollment and reenrollment in the program, how the programs interact—particularly the interaction during the Great Recession—and how earnings volatility impacts usage of SNAP.
Strengths of the Social Safety Net in the Great Recession: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance and Unemployment Insurance, Christopher J. O’Leary, David Stevens, Stephen A. Wandner, and Michael Wiseman, editors (open access)
Food Stamps and the Working Poor, by Peter Mueser, David Ribar, and Erdal Tekin (read the introductory chapter)
Income Volatility and Food Assistance in the United States, Dean Jolliffe and James P. Ziliak, editors (open access)