U.S. Census Bureau reports nearly 15 million households on food stamps in 2011

Caroline May | Reporter

New data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Wednesday show that the number of American households on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, increased by about 10 percent in 2011.

In 2011, 14.9 million American households, or 13 percent of all households, reported receiving food stamps in the last 12 months — up from 13.6 million, or 11.9 percent, in 2010, according to the newly released report, “Food Stamp/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Receipt in the Past 12 Months for Households by State: 2010 and 2011.

The bureau found that 47 states and the District of Columbia experienced an increase in household participation between 2010 and 2011, with the District of Columbia, Alabama and Hawaii experiencing the largest growth in participation.

Oregon had the highest household participation rate in 2011, with 18.9 percent. (RELATED: President Barack Obama met with Mexican government to promote food stamp use among Mexican immigrants)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, which oversees the food stamp program, 47.1 million people were enrolled in SNAP as of Aug. 2012.

The Census Bureau also released additional reports Wednesday showing that 17.9 percent of adults aged 18 and older lived in shared households in 2011, up from 16 percent in 2007, prior to the start of the recession.

According to the bureau, the number of households on public assistance — including Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and General Assistance — was 3.3 million, or 2.9 percent of all households, in 2011. The statistic did not show a substantial increase from the previous year.

The states with a percentage of households participating in public assistance at a rate higher than the national average were concentrated in the West and Northeast. Twenty-four states with a participation rates lower than the national average were in the South and Midwest.

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