Food-stamp enrollment outpaces population growth in Illinois
Participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has increased more than six times the rate population has grown over the last five years.
The number of people receiving food stamps in Illinois is growing faster than the state’s population. More than 100,000 Illinoisans have enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, since 2011.
In fact, participation in SNAP has increased almost 6 percent, while the total Illinois population has only grown 0.2 percent. The percentage of the total Illinois population that receives SNAP benefits has grown as well. In 2016, 15 percent of Illinois residents are participating in SNAP, up from 14.2 percent in 2011.
This has occurred during a period of economic recovery, though increased food stamp usage in Illinois might indicate that the recovery never came for too many Illinoisans.
The increased dependency on government financial aid is a clear sign of the economic distress Illinoisans are facing. In fact, Illinois’ workforce has shrunk by 105,000 people just over the past summer, which is no surprise considering many working-age adults, especially those who are unemployed, are choosing to move from Illinois to other states where job prospects are brighter.
Illinois’ food-stamp usage compared to other states
In Illinois, since 2011 the number of jobs has been fairly stagnant and workforce dropout continues, and participation in SNAP has increased. But the exact opposite has happened in other states, where the number of jobs has increased, and SNAP participation has decreased.
Take Michigan for example. From September 2011 to September 2016, the number of Michigan residents receiving SNAP benefits decreased by over 487,000. Michigan’s decrease of SNAP participants is double Illinois’ increase of SNAP participants. Moreover, Michigan’s SNAP participation has dropped more than 12 percent. This is not surprising, considering during the same time period, Michigan gained over 356,000 jobs net.
Indiana also has had good prospects. From September 2011 to September 2016, the number of Indiana residents receiving SNAP benefits decreased by over 185,000. Indiana saw a 21 percent decrease in SNAP usage over this time period, which is astonishing considering Indiana’s population is almost half the size of Illinois. This also is not surprising, considering during the same time period, Indiana gained over 180,000 jobs on net.
Illinois legislators need to take steps to make Illinois a more business friendly environment before the state loses more jobs and people. A good place to begin would be to fix Illinois’ broken workers compensation system, which is costing Illinois business millions of dollars each year. Illinois also needs to decrease the overall tax burden on businesses and residents that is creeping higher and higher.
Until these problems change, Illinois will continue to see its economic prospects spiral downward, and Illinoisans will be stuck in the middle of it.