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Trump once again floats the idea of being president beyond two terms. Also on the Monday rundown: A new national report ranks children's well-being, from coast to coast; and a Family Care Act gains support.

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Report: Improved Economy Means Fewer in Need of Food Assistance

New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates slightly fewer Americans are in need of food assistance, and the agency attributes the shift to an improving economy. (dodgertonskillhause/morguefile.com)
New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture indicates slightly fewer Americans are in need of food assistance, and the agency attributes the shift to an improving economy. (dodgertonskillhause/morguefile.com)
March 21, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. – While approximately one in four North Carolinians utilizes food assistance programs at some point each year, at least some of the need for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is seeing a slight decrease.

A report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) looked at national data and found that for the second year in a row, fewer people – 2 percent less in 2015 – participated in SNAP.

Report author Victor Oliveira attributes his findings to one key factor.

"The economy has been improving in recent years, and during economic growth periods when the unemployment rate is low, that means fewer people are going to be eligible," he explains.

While finding a job may be easier for some in the state, a change in SNAP benefits in several states, including North Carolina, requires that food stamp recipients must prove they're working, volunteering or taking classes at least 20 hours a week.

The requirement applies to people under 50 years old without children and will be implemented statewide starting in July.

The number of people in SNAP for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) also saw a decrease for the fifth consecutive year, explains Oliveira.

"It's heavily tied to the birth rate, and in recent years the number of births in this country has been decreasing, so therefore the pool of potential people to participate in the program has been shrinking," he says.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina's unemployment rate remains 1.4 points higher in 2015 than it was in pre-recession levels.

When statistics include the number of people forced to take part-time jobs and are under-employed, that rate is more than 11 percent.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC