Poorest SNAP households least likely to get additional support from unemployment insurance

A chart showing the share of SNAP households receiving unemployment insurance by household income.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment insurance are two countercyclical assistance programs. In economic downturns, more people become eligible for the programs and participation grows. A recent ERS report found that the poorest SNAP households are the most likely to rely on SNAP alone without unemployment insurance, perhaps because they lack the work histories and sufficient earnings to be eligible for unemployment insurance. In 2009, just 6.7 percent of SNAP households with annual incomes below 50 percent of the poverty line also received unemployment insurance. In comparison, 22.6 percent of SNAP households with incomes between 150 and 199 percent of poverty received unemployment insurance. In 2005 (a full-employment year), 3.6 percent of SNAP households in the lowest income group received unemployment assistance. The statistics for this chart are from the ERS report, Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Unemployment Insurance: How Tight Are the Strands of the Recessionary Safety Net?, November 2013.

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