BEYOND THE NUMBERS
SNAP (formerly food stamps) should be a “hand-up,” not a “permanent lifestyle,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said recently. But SNAP, which President Trump’s budget would cut by $193 billion over the next decade, is a hand-up to millions of workers. As our recent paper explains, millions of Americans work in jobs with low wages, inconsistent schedules, and no benefits such as paid sick leave — all of which contribute to high turnover and spells of unemployment. Many of these people get help putting food on the table through SNAP, which supplements low wages, smooths out income volatility due to changing work hours, and supports workers and their families while they’re between jobs.
Nationally, about 10 percent of civilian workers are in households that participated in SNAP in the last year; the share ranges by state from about 5 percent to 17 percent, as the map below shows. A state’s share reflects both the number of low-income workers eligible for SNAP and the extent to which eligible workers participate in SNAP.
The map also lists the most common types of jobs for workers participating in SNAP. In every state, service occupations are the most common major occupation group among SNAP participants. And, in all 48 states for which we have reliable data, cashiers are among the three most common occupations for workers participating in SNAP.
The table below the map shows, by state, the number and share of workers in different occupation groups that participate in SNAP. In some occupations, a relatively high share of workers participate in SNAP. For example, in nearly every state with available data, over one-fifth of personal care aides participate in SNAP. (This animated video gives some other examples of the kinds of working SNAP participants whom you might meet each day.) The table also shows average wage data for each occupation for all workers in the state. SNAP provides essential support to help workers put food on the table.
For state-by-state fact sheets, visit State Fact Sheets: SNAP Helps Low-Wage Workers in Every State.