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

Panel Paper: Aid to Jobless Workers in the Face of the Great Recession: The Interaction of Unemployment Insurance and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 12:00 AM
Zamora (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Peter Mueser and Colleen Heflin, University of Missouri
Although many programs redistribute resources in the U.S., two program were central in providing a safety net for those facing hardship during the Great Recession: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which grew to 47.7 million people in January 2013—or 15.1 percent of all Americans—and the Unemployment Insurance Program (UI), which more than doubled with the onset of the recession, reaching a seasonally adjusted maximum of 6.5 million recipients in June 2009.  We examine state administrative data from Florida for SNAP and UI from late 2005 through early 2010.  We focus on three research questions:

1. What is the extent of the overlap, meaning temporal connection, between UI and SNAP receipt?  What is the timing of that connection?

2. How much does SNAP assist in filling the income gap when a job is lost?

3. How have changes in public policy and economic conditions affected the answer to these questions?

We find that the number of families relying on both SNAP and UI together ballooned with the Great Recession, and that the patterns changed as expected, with UI growing dramatically in relative importance.  At the same time, only a minority of those swelling the ranks of SNAP obtained benefits from the UI program, suggesting that the current safety net has important limitations in times of serious economic distress.