Starting April 1, nearly 1 million Americans could see their food stamps disappear due to an outdated rule.
The 20-year-old federal decree requires that adults without children or disabilities have a job in order to receive benefits for more than three months from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program — a rule that was logically suspended during the 2008 financial crisis.
Yet as economic conditions improved, lawmakers in 22 states reinstated the work mandate. Conservative leaders have argued that given the consistent dropping unemployment rate, finding a job is easier and waiving the mandate will encourage dependents to exploit the system.
Some states, however, do not meet the economic prerequisites to wisely enforce this rule.
Mississippi, South Carolina and West Virginia suffer from weak economies, with Mississippi’s and West Virginia’s unemployment rate averaging at 6.5 percent — significantly higher than the national average of 5 percent.
Between 500,000 and 1 million Americans struggling to put food on the table could have their benefits cut in the next year, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis.
While the economy has improved, there is still considerable halt in the labor market. Wage growth is slowly progressing forward and many individuals are working fewer hours than they wish. These factors heavily impact a person’s ability to make ends meet.
Liberal politicians and think tanks have warned that abruptly kicking SNAP recipients off their benefits does more harm than good.
Doing so will can drastically increase the levels of hunger and poverty, according to a Center on Budget Policy and Priorities report, and these kinds of stressors will certainly not motivate unemployed individuals to find work faster.
“Making people hungrier isn’t going to make them find work faster,” Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Poverty to Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, told The Washington Post. “One of the most helpful things for someone looking for work is helping them not worry about putting food on the table.”
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