Bloomberg Opinion – In some circles, the notion that there’s no free lunch isn’t just a metaphor for our economic reality — it’s taken as a directive. That’s the idea behind the view that to qualify for government benefits, an able-bodied adult should either hold a job or be in school. West Virginia has been testing this theory by imposing such a requirement for eligibility in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — more commonly known as food stamps — in certain counties since 2016. Read article.
The state has hoped that introducing work requirements would increase employment among SNAP beneficiaries and reduce reliance on food stamps, which ballooned during the Great Recession.
The results aren’t heartening: According to a report from the West Virginia Center for Budget and Policy, work requirements did reduce SNAP participation in the affected counties, which saw a 13.6% decline in enrollment — much higher than the 5.7% decline elsewhere in the state. But employment growth in those counties has, if anything, slowed compared with the rest of West Virginia. And reducing access to food stamps without growth in the job market has in turn put pressure on local food banks and food pantries.
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