fb-pixel Skip to main content

WASHINGTON — For the first time, working-age people make up the majority in US households that rely on food stamps — a switch from a few years ago, when children and the elderly were the main recipients.

Some of the change is due to demographics, such as the trend toward having fewer children. But a slow economic recovery with high unemployment, stagnant wages, and an increasing gulf between low-wage and high-skill jobs also plays a big role.

It suggests that government spending on the $80 billion-a-year food stamp program — twice what it cost five years ago — may not subside significantly any time soon.


Food stamp participation since 1980 has grown the fastest among workers with some college training, a sign that the safety net has stretched further to cover America’s former middle class, according to an analysis of data for the Associated Press by economists at the University of Kentucky.

Formally called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, or SNAP, the program now covers 1 in 7 Americans.

Economists say having a job may no longer be enough for self-sufficiency in today’s economy.

Associated Press