Census Data Show SNAP Participation by State, County, and Congressional District Level
Findings from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), released by the Census Bureau on September 20th, contain a wealth of information for advocates, policymakers, and the media, including the ability to look at Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation in 2011 by households at the state, county, and congressional district level. FRAC has compiled these data for your use.
Charts available on FRAC’s website include:
States sorted alphabetically (pdf), and by rank(pdf) of percent of population participating in SNAP;
Counties (with populations of more than 65,000 people) sorted alphabetically (pdf), and by rank (pdf) of percent of population participating in SNAP; and
Congressional districts sorted alphabetically (pdf), and by rank (pdf) of percent of population participating in SNAP.
One caveat about this data: the ACS is self-reported data and otherwise is slightly different than USDA, state, and county administrative program data. Therefore ACS participation rates are lower – sometimes considerably lower – than the administrative data. Over the years, self-reports in surveys have understated participation in various benefit programs. But the data do provide important opportunities to, for example, compare participation rates between counties, or between congressional districts.
For example, the numbers tell us:
At the state level, Oregon had the highest percentage (18.9 percent) of households reporting receipt of SNAP. Several southern states fell into the top ten. Following Oregon were: Michigan (18.1 percent); Tennessee (17.6 percent); Maine (17.5 percent); Kentucky (17.4 percent); Mississippi (17.3 percent); Alabama (17 percent); Louisiana (16.4 percent); West Virginia (16 percent); South Carolina (15.4 percent); and New Mexico (15.4 percent).
Among counties, Texas had three in the top ten: Hidalgo (35 percent); Webb (31 percent); and Cameron (28 percent). Bronx County in New York had the highest percentage (38 percent) of households reporting receipt of SNAP.
New York’s 16th Congressional District had the highest rate at 53 percent, followed by Michigan’s 13th District (36 percent) and 14th District (32 percent). Fifty-six Congressional Districts had at least one in five households reporting receipt of SNAP, by the ACS measure.
Overall, these data show that SNAP was a lifeline for millions of low-income working families and other vulnerable Americans in 2011 everywhere in the country, and that it continues to be an important support.