Inflation has driven up the prices of nearly all goods and services, with prices of necessary items, including groceries, up significantly. The cost of a gallon of milk is up 25% compared to pre-pandemic prices. According to a report by Moody’s Analytics, American families pay $311 more each month, on average, for essential goods compared to one year ago. To survive the price hikes, millions of Americans will rely on the government’s food assistance benefits, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
As of 2020, roughly 13.8 million American households, about one in 10, received SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps. At the more local level, SNAP recipiency is much higher.
To rank the states with the highest SNAP recipiency rates, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed five-year estimates of the share of households that received SNAP benefits in the past 12 months from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey.
SNAP recipiency is primarily determined by income, so as might be expected, states with higher poverty rates also tend to have more households receiving benefits. However, other factors such as assets and household composition impact whether a household qualifies, so there are exceptions to the rule. For example, while Oregon has the fourth highest SNAP recipiency rate, at 15% of households, the state’s poverty rate of 12.4% is slightly lower than the national poverty rate of 12.8%. These are the states where the most children live in Poverty.
Since income is the primary determinant for SNAP recipiency, unemployment is a major determinant of how many people receive benefits, since those Americans who are out of a job are likely to have little to no income. The three states with the highest SNAP recipiency rates — Louisiana, West Virginia, and New Mexico — all have five-year average unemployment rates of 6.5%, compared to the U.S. five year average unemployment rate of 5.3%. These are the states with the worst spikes in unemployment since the pandemic began.
Click here to see states where the most families need food stamps
Click here to see our detailed methodology
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