WASHINGTON Nov 17 The number of U.S.
households relying on food stamps, the subsidies that help
people cover the costs of groceries, soared 16 percent in 2010
to 13.6 million, the Census said on Thursday.
That means more than one in 10 American households -- 11.9
percent -- used the assistance to buy food.
Nevada, had the largest increase in food stamp use in 2010,
the latest year data is available, from 2009. The number of
households filing for and receiving the aid shot up 48.4
percent there, the Census showed.
Altogether, food stamp use increased in 45 states. Four
other states -- Idaho, Colorado, Wisconsin and Florida -- also
had increases of 30 percent of more.
Oregon, though, had the highest participation rate in the
program, which is also known as the Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program, at 17.9 percent.
Fifteen percent or more of people in seven other states
also used food stamps: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee,
Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan and Maine.
Food stamps are often used to gauge a state's economic
health, and the federal government shares the costs and
administration of the program with state governments.
Their increased use in Nevada reflects the state's wider
Nevada was especially stung by the bursting of the housing
bubble and, like many states, has yet to fully recover from the
economic recession that officially ended in 2009 -- its
unemployment rate has been above 10 percent for 31 straight
months. According to the U.S. Labor Department, its mean hourly
wage was $19.82 and mean annual pay was $41,220 in 2010.
Nationally, the national mean hourly wage of $21.35 and
mean annual pay of $44,410 in 2010.
Oregon fares slightly better, with an unemployment rate of
9.6 percent. In 2010, its mean hourly wage was $20.94 and its
mean annual pay was $43,550.
The recession began in 2007, pushing up the levels of food
stamp enrollment throughout the country. Meanwhile, the federal
government expanded eligibility for the program in 2008 and
increased the benefits in the 2009 economic stimulus plan.
In an average month in fiscal 2010, 40.3 million
individuals received the benefits, an all-time high and 20
percent more than in 2009, the U.S. Agriculture Department,
which oversees the program, reported in September.
Most of the households lived in poverty and included a
child or elderly or disabled person, it said.