According to March’s numbers, 40 million Americans now receive food stamps, the highest number ever, as the jobless rate circled near its 26-year high.
Recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program subsidies for food purchases totaled 40.2 million, up 21 percent from a year earlier and 1.2 percent higher than in February, according to figures on the Department of Agriculture’s website. The number of recipients has set records for 16 straight months.
Food-based aid climbed while March’s unemployment rate of 9.7 percent was actually steady for a third straight month, near levels last seen in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate rose to 9.9 percent in April.
The use of food stamps will rise as joblessness persists and the government continues to try and increase the number of eligible families onto federal assistance, the USDA said.
An average of 40.5 million people, more than an eighth of the population, will get food stamps each month in the year that began Oct. 1, according to White House estimates. The figure is projected to rise to 43.3 million in 2011.