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 May, 86,720 individual recipients were added to the food stamps program. The current total still increased 2.45% on a year-over-year basis. Individuals receiving food stamp benefits increased to 47.63 million, which, as a ratio of the overall civilian non-institutional population, now stands at a whopping 19.41%.
Households receiving food stamps benefits increased by 32,084 to 23.07 million, with the current total rising 3.29% above the level seen a year earlier. As participation continues to swell, so too has the total nominal benefit cost. It has climbed 2.27% on a year-over-year basis to $6.32 billion for the month.