Food-stamp enrollment in Illinois outpaces job creation by nearly 2-to-1

September 16, 2014
By Michael Lucci

Illinois’ sluggish jobs recovery is coming at a tremendous cost. For every post-recession job created in Illinois, nearly two people have enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps.

In the recession era, the number of Illinoisans dependent on food stamps has risen by 745,000. Without adequate job creation in the state, Illinois families have had no choice but to depend upon food stamps to put bread on the table.

The Prairie State has had the worst recovery from the Great Recession of any state in the U.S. There are nearly 300,000 fewer Illinoisans working today than in January 2008, and 170,000 fewer payroll jobs.


Jobs began to come back to Illinois in January 2010. But even since then, job creation hasn’t kept up with the needs of Illinois families. Food-stamp enrollment has outpaced job creation by nearly 2-to-1 during Illinois’ jobs recovery, from January 2010-July 2014.

The pace at which Illinois has been creating jobs is simply not good enough for Illinois families, and policy mistakes, such as the historic 2011 tax hikes, have made it worse. Illinois has gained only 240,000 jobs since the bottom of the recession, while food-stamp enrollment has gone up by 420,000.


Even this year, as policy leaders claim the state is amidst a recovery, food-stamp enrollment continues to surge. Over the first seven months of 2014, Illinois is dead last in the U.S. for private sector job creation, having lost 5,900 private sector jobs. Food-stamp enrollment has surged by 17,000 over the same time period.


There are now over 2 million Illinoisans dependent on food stamps, and more than 1 million in Cook County alone. That means that one in five residents of Cook County depend on food stamps just to get by.

Lawmakers need to jump-start entrepreneurship and embrace structural reform in order to get the economy going again. Without a fair shot at work, Illinoisans are forced into food-stamp dependency.

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