As a logical consequence of the prolonged economic downturn, participation in the federal food stamp program is continuing to rise. In fact, household participation has been climbing so steadily that it has dwarfed the last peak (which looks like a minor blip by comparison) set as a result of the immediate fallout following Hurricane Katrina. The latest data released by the Department of Agriculture indicated that in February, a notable 213,962 individual recipients were removed from the food stamps program with the current total still increasing 2.66% on a year-over-year basis.
Individuals receiving food stamp benefits declined to 47.55 million, which, as a ratio of the overall civilian non-institutional population, declined 1.66% since February 2012 to now stand at a whopping 19.42% of the population. Households receiving food stamps benefits declined by 82,324 to 23 million households with the current total rising 3.84% above the level seen a year earlier. As participation continues to swell, so too has the total nominal benefit cost climbing 2.32% on a year-over-year basis to $6.30 billion for the month.