Despite the unemployment rate being at an eight-year low (4.9 percent as of January 2016), the number of people on food stamps remains near an all-time high which was 47,636,000 in 2013.
Why the disparity in the numbers? Well, the unemployment rate does not take into account people who are not in, or have dropped out of, the workforce altogether.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January of this year that approximately 94 million Americans are not participating in the workforce.
But the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been hovering around 46 million participants since 2011. The current figure, as of February 2016, stands at 45.8 million Americans receiving food stamps.
The last time the unemployment rate was at five percent, was in April of 2008, when only 28 million Americans were on food stamps.