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Letter to the editor: Food stamps increase tracks with jobs gap

Friday, April 11, 2014 - 12:01 am

From 1969-2001, the mean rate of growth of nonfarm employment in the United States was 2 percent per year. From 2001-2013, the mean rate of job growth has fallen to less than 0.2 percent. From 2001 -2013, the number of food stamp recipients almost tripled from 17 million in 2001 to 48 million in 2013. The change in the number of food stamp recipients since 2001 is almost numerically identical to the jobs gap.

What is the jobs gap? First look at the theoretical curve that best fits the employment data from 1969-2001. This is the 2 percent curve. Now, extend this curve of 2 percent growth rate from 2001-2013. This is to compare the 2 percent curve to what we actually got from 2001-2013. When one plots the actual employment data from 2001-2013 immediately following the data from 1969-2001 on the same graph as the 2 percent curve, one sees that a large gap opens starting in 2001. This is the jobs gap. At the start of 2009, the gap was almost 20 million; now it is about 30 million. The jobs gap is the failure of the U.S. economy to create employment at the normal 2 percent rate. How is this related to the number of food stamp recipients?

The jobs gap is the difference between the 2 percent curve and the actual employment data curve. On the same graph as the jobs gap curve, plot the change in SNAP recipients from 2001-2013. In 2001 there were 17 million people on SNAP, so subtract this number from the SNAP data and plot this delta from 2001-2013. What one finds is that the change in SNAP from 2001-2013 is almost identical to the jobs gap.

We see that for each job the U.S. economy failed to create from 2001-2013, there is almost exactly 1 SNAP recipient added.

There are two consequences of this observation. One, we see the reason so many Americans are on SNAP is not rotten food stamp people, not Barack Obama, but WTO. WTO and Republican job exports are responsible for the destruction or export of about 30 million jobs since 2001and are therefore responsible for every single additional American needing food stamps.

Second, any reasonable mathematical model of an employment system such as ours is going to show that if you cut the rate of job production by a factor of 10, then the mean waiting time to find a new job goes up by about 10. Prior to 2001, the typical time to find a new job was about 2-3 months. In the current economy, this time is now 20-30 months. Therefore, it is both morally and mathematically justified to significantly extend unemployment benefits for those actively seeking work to as much as 30 months.

What do the Republicans understand of this new reality? Their latest bold new policy initiatives for the 21st century are cutting the food stamp budget and stopping unemployment benefits.

Hank Achor