Does the September jump in food stamp recipients signal a red alert for the US economy?
Summary: The number of households getting food stamps tells us little about the future (ie, it’s not a leading indicator). It tells us something about the present. And reporting about it tells us much about the reporter. America will become a stronger nation when we demand high-quality sources of information, and complain about those that twist the news to suit our biases. That’s something each of us can do, starting today.
The just reported foodstamp number for September was a doozy, with 607,544 new Americans becoming eligible for foodstamps, as a record 47.7 million Americans are now living in poverty at least according to the USDA. The monthly increase was the highest since May 2011, and with August’s 421K new impoverished America, over 1 million Americans made the EBT card their new best friend. It is unclear just which atmospheric phenomenon will get the blame for this unprecedented surge in poverty, which comes at a time when the pre-election economic data euphoria was adamant that the US economy was on an escape velocity to utopia.
Being from Zero Hedge, this is of course misleading. The USDA data page clearly shows that September data includes disaster relief, and they hyperlink to an explanation. The number of people getting SNAP benefits rose 608 thousand in September. The number of people getting new SNAP benefits in response to Hurricane Isaac: 654 thousand.
FNS approved operation of the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) for new D-SNAP recipients and ongoing SNAP recipients to help disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in response to Hurricane Isaac which made landfall on August 28, 2012. Preliminary reports show that as of October 12, 2012, FNS has provided over $114.9 million in Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) benefits to help disaster survivors in Louisiana and Mississippi in response to the extended power outages and flooding caused by Hurricane Isaac. Over 654,652 individuals in 283,598 households received these benefits. In addition, FNS provided over $19.2 million in supplemental benefits to 299,169 individuals in 125,605 ongoing SNAP households affected by the disaster.
Zero Hedge also provides graphs (as usual, of excellent quality), which tells the story of our economic recovery: weak — and leaving many people behind.
An example of an excellent Zero Hedge article
Zero Hedge provides material from top-quality other sources, many of which are difficult to obtain (copyrights!), which might be a reason for their popularity. Here’s an example, in which they provide supporting material to an excellent and important Bloomberg article: “The Mysterious Case Of America’s Negative Real Wage Growth“. It’s well worth reading.
For More Information
Where to find reliable sources of information and analysis about economics: Economics can help understand events in America and the world. Here’s where to find those answers.
Other posts about Zero Hedge:
- Another example of the “it’s on the Internet so it must be true” fail: Zero Hedge, 14 May 2010
- “2nd Iceland volcano issues warning” (Katla speaks to MSNBC’s newshounds), 28 May 2010
- We are ignorant because we enjoy being lied to. Today we look at lies about the US debt., 8 August 2011
- Plus the many times they’ve warned that the US was about to attack Iran
About the recovery:
- It’s the end of the world we’ve known since WWII (updated status report), 29 June 2012
- Did the recession begin in July? If so, expect an ugly 2013, 2 December 2012
- Report about the state of small businesses: yellow alert, 7 December 2012