A lot of folks, mouth agape, may have been tracking the stock market for the last few days. Some are eyeballing employment data looking for an indication that the nation may finally be resetting on more secure economic footing. One economic-ish statistic which may have gone unnoticed today was tracked by Reuters at least: The number of U.S. citizens receiving food stamps has risen to an all-time high of 40 million people. It's another in a string of record setting months that began trending up in December 2008.
According to Reuters:
The Agriculture Department said 39.68 million people, or 1 in 8 Americans, were enrolled for food stamps during February, an increase of 260,000 from January. USDA updated its figures on Wednesday.
"This is the highest share of the U.S. population on SNAP/food stamps," said the anti-hunger group Food Research and Action Center, using the new name for food stamps, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). "Research suggests that one in three eligible people are not receiving ... benefits."
Enrollment has set a record each month since reaching 31.78 million in December 2008. USDA estimates enrollment will average 40.5 million people this fiscal year, which ends Sept 30, at a cost of up to $59 billion. For fiscal 2011, average enrollment is forecast for 43.3 million people.