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 December, 109,924 recipients were added to the food stamps program with the current total increasing 2.75% on a year-over-year basis.
Individuals receiving food stamp benefits increased to 47.79 million which, as a ratio of the overall civilian non-institutional population, increased 1.16% on the month to now stand at a whopping 19.55% of the population.
Households receiving food stamps benefits increased by 48,683 to 23.06 million with the current total rising 4.07% above the level seen a year earlier
As participation continues to swell, so too has the total nominal benefit cost climbing 2.78% on a year-over-year basis to $6.39 billion for the month.