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A new report from the Center for American Progress looks at the economic consequences of cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as the House leadership budget proposed for fiscal year 2013, released by Rep. Paul Ryan on March 20, 2012.

According to the new report, in 2009, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was responsible for lifting the income of 3.6 million Americans over the poverty line, providing an average of less than $300 in monthly food stamps to families in need. In 2010 this program lifted 3.9 million Americans above poverty, including 1.7 million children nationally.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program continues to help Americans struggling to make ends meet today. The program provided $72 billion worth of benefits to nearly 45 million Americans in fiscal year 2011, ending in October of last year.

SNAP also plays an important role in sustaining demand for groceries provided by businesses in communities around the country.Analysis in the report finds that each $1 billion spent by recipients enables nearly 14,000 Americans to find or keep their jobs. That means approximately 1 million workers were employed last year because of this program.

In North Carolina, a 10 percent cut to SNAP by the federal government would mean $229 million less in SNAP payments, 3,372 fewer jobs and as many as 370 million fewer meals for low-income families in our state.

  • 1,346,495 North Carolinians receive SNAP benefits
  • 17.5 percent of North Carolinians live on income below the federal poverty level ($22,050 for a family of four)
  • 15.7 percent of North Carolina households suffer food insecurity.

The report estimates that at the national level:

* Each $1 billion reduction in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
eliminates 13,718 jobs.
* A 10 percent reduction in the size of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program would cause more than 96,000 job losses.
* These losses would be particularly strong in food-related industries, which
would lose as many as 11,000 jobs under a 10 percent cut to the program.
* Job losses will likely have the greatest impact on younger workers, since they
account for a disproportionate share of workers in food-related industries-
nearly one-third of grocery employees are under 25, compared to just 14 percent
of workers in all industries.

The map below looks at the state-by-state impact of a potential 10 percent reduction in spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through harsh measures to reduce eligibility. It is estimated that these measures would result in 96,000 jobs lost, take millions of meals off the table, and undermine the stability of tens of thousands of American families.

Economic Impact of Cutting SNAP Benefits

For an interactive map:

Source: Meals cut estimated by CAP based on the average cost of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Thrifty Food Plan for a family of four, which is $1.62 per meal. The per meal amount is multiplied by the value of a 10 percent cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Estimated job loss from Jeffrey Thompson and Heidi Garrett-Peltier,“The Economic Consequences of Cutting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” 

Donna Cooper is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

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