Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Making SNAP Work: A Longitudinal Analysis of SNAP Receipt and Employment in Oregon

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 8:50 AM
Zamora (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Erik Scherpf, U.S. Department of Agriculture
The link between SNAP and employment has been the subject of much recent policy debate, as states begin to reevaluate their waivers of program work requirements for Able-bodied Adult without Dependents (ABAWD) and as Congress debates eliminating state ABAWD waiver options entirely, as well as potentially expanding work requirements to include participants with dependents (see, for example, the proposed, though unsuccessful, Southerland amendment to the most recent Farm Bill). Much of this policy debate has been fueled by concerns among some lawmakers that the SNAP caseload has been slow to decline as the economy has recovered from the Great Recession.

This paper investigates patterns of SNAP participant and employment in Oregon using a unique administrative data linkage. Specifically, we link SNAP administrative records to UI employment and earnings data for two SNAP ‘intake’ cohorts:  one that entered SNAP in 2005 and another that entered in 2009, each of which we are then able to follow—in both the UI and SNAP administrative data—for at least five years. With this data linkage, we are able to examine how the relationship between SNAP and work may have changed from the pre- to the post-recessionary period. Moreover, by combing the administrative data with information on local labor market indicators from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), we also estimate the differences in SNAP recipients’ responsiveness to local labor market conditions across the business cycle.

Using longitudinal administrative data for measuring both SNAP participation and UI-covered employment and wages confers several advantages. One is that we obtain more accurate measures of our two key measures of interest—SNAP and wages—which are often reported with considerable error in household survey data. Another is that, unlike studies that have used administrative program records combined with geographically aggregated labor market information, the availability of linked administrative microdata on both SNAP and employment outcomes allows us to observe the decisions individuals actually make about both program participation and labor supply in response to local labor market conditions.   

This study will provide both descriptive analysis of employment and SNAP participation patterns as well as multivariate analysis, employing discrete-time hazard models to estimate the effect of employment status on the likelihood of program exit for the two cohorts. For SNAP participants who begin program spells without employment, we are also able to estimate hazard models of entry into employment. Our models account for individual unobserved heterogeneity so as to better isolate duration dependence effects.