Geographic Dispersion of SNAP Enrollment in Georgia
In 2012, approximately 20 percent of Georgia’s population received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly food stamps). This percentage share was the sixth highest in the country. However, there is substantial county level variation in the share of the population that received SNAP benefits in a given year. In this map feature, we illustrate the variations in SNAP enrollment as a share of county population as well as the changes that have occurred in those shares since 2000.1
Figures 1 and 2 show the share of county population receiving SNAP benefits. From 2000 to 2006, the share of county population that received SNAP benefits increased. In 2000, 89 counties had less than a 10 percent share of their population receiving SNAP benefits. By 2006, only 47 counties had less than a 10 percent share. There was also an increase in the number of counties with higher shares of their populations receiving SNAP benefits from 2000 to 2006. In 2000, only 15 counties had a 16 percent or greater share of their population receiving SNAP benefits. By 2006, 55 counties had a 16 percent or greater share of their population receiving SNAP benefits.
By 2012, 67 counties had a 25 percent or greater share of their population receiving SNAP benefits, compared to four counties in 2006 (Figure 3). These higher ratio counties were primarily in the southern portion of the state, but, there was also a significant increase in the percent of the population receiving SNAP benefits in the northern portion of the state. Several metropolitan Atlanta counties, as well as some counties in the northwest corner of the state, including the urban areas of Dalton and Rome had shares increase to 21 percent or greater in 2012. This dramatic increase can mostly be attributed to declining economic conditions brought on by the 2008 recession (NBER 2013).
With the recession technically ending in 2009, SNAP enrollment had not returned to pre-recession levels and the level of reliance on SNAP by enrollment continues to vary widely across the state. The underlying economic conditions in Georgia that have created this disparity in living standards will be a challenge for the business community and state and local policymakers for years to come.
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Ganong, Peter and Jeffrey B. Liebman (2013). “The Decline, Rebound, and Further Rise in SNAP Enrollment: Disentangling Business Cycle Fluctuations and Policy Changes.” NBER Working Paper No. 19363, August. Available at http://www.nber.org/papers/w19363.
1All SNAP data are from the Georgia Department of Human Resources Administrative SNAP files that the Fiscal Research Center maintains. Average monthly enrollments are used to determine yearly enrollment. For the data used to create these maps please see the accompanying table. This map feature is an excerpt of FRC Brief 267 by Peter Bluestone.
- Peter Bluestone -
Peter Bluestone is a senior research associate with the Fiscal Research Center and Center for State and Local Finance. His research includes urban economics, static and dynamic economic impact modeling, and state and local fiscal policy. His work includes modeling state and local impacts of policy changes and economic development using various economic models, including… more »