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Report: SNAP Work Requirements Cause Job Losses, Not Gains

According to the grocery industry, some stores depend on purchases made with SNAP benefits for as much as half of their sales. (Pixabay)
According to the grocery industry, some stores depend on purchases made with SNAP benefits for as much as half of their sales. (Pixabay)
March 27, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS - A plan to put work requirements on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - formerly food stamps - would cost the American economy nearly $180,000 jobs, according to a new analysis.

Language requiring that able-bodied adults prove they are working or moving toward jobs to get SNAP benefits was defeated when proposed for the last federal Farm Bill. The Trump administration now says it will enact the requirement by administrative order.

Rebecca Vallas, vice president for anti-poverty policy at the Center for American Progress, looked at its impact on grocery stores over a 10-year period.

"If that one cut were to take effect, we would see 178,000 fewer jobs," she said. "When you cut programs like SNAP, you don't just make more families hungry. You also weaken local economies."

The administration has argued that the move would push people into the workforce, but pilot projects in several states have found few have done so. The pilot projects did see higher demand at food banks.

According to White House projections, about three-quarters of a million individuals and households would lose SNAP benefits. The grocery industry has said that would translate into falling sales, especially in poor neighborhoods, where customers using SNAP benefits are a lifeline for the stores and their employees.

"The grocery industry is strongly opposed to cuts to the SNAP program," said Jonathan Williams, communications director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which covers six states and Washington, D.C. "Their businesses rely on these benefits being redeemed at their stores. It would be a major blow were any cuts to occur."

Supporters of work requirements have argued that the reduced spending will help ease the federal budget deficit. However, Vallas said SNAP is a much more effective economic stimulus than the big tax cut that the SNAP cutback would help pay for. She added that people are more likely to get and keep a job when they can feed their families.

"The dirty little secret about so-called 'work requirements' is that they don't create a single job and they don't raise anyone's wages," she said. "Making someone hungrier isn't going to help them find work any faster."

The analysis is online at americanprogress.org.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - IN