Families Facing Joblessness More Likely to Get Food Stamps Than Unemployment Benefits
Julia Isaacs notes a surprising safety net fact: children in families struggling through a spell of unemployment are more likely to receive food stamps than unemployment insurance:
Of childrearing families with at least one unemployed parent, fully 39 percent receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) benefits. Only 36 percent receive unemployment benefits.
Food stamps are an anti-poverty program, whereas unemployment insurance is just that -- a program intended to help families smooth over the temporary shock of job loss without disrupting their lives. The fact that more families with kids dealing with unemployment are enrolled in a poverty program than signed up for unemployment benefits is a commentary on the state of the U.S. job market.
And of those receving unemployment insurance benefits, many are also in anti-poverty programs:
Isaacs suggests that many people leave the workforce not because of a firing or a layoff, but because their job didn't pay enough to balance out competing demands for their time at home and in the hunt for a better job. Such workers may not be eligible for unemployment benefits. which would help explain why more families with kids that are struggling through unemployment get foodstamps than unemployment insurance benefits.