SNAP Work Requirements Don't Increase Employment, But They Do Hurt People Who Need the Program Most

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New preliminary research from the USDA comes to a completely unsurprising conclusion: adding work requirements to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the food assistance program for low-income Americans, doesn’t increase levels of employment among recipients. Instead, it discourages people from using the program in the first place.


The government study, by researchers Erik Scherpf, Brian Stacy, and Young Jo, found that the work requirements, imposed by the Trump administration through executive order last April, “have a close to null impact on labor force participation and the number of hours worked.”

More troublingly, the requirements are impacting the number of people taking advantage of the program, and may be specifically limiting access for people who are most at risk.

“There is some evidence that those with worse job prospects are especially less likely to participate in SNAP as a result of the work requirements,” the authors write.

In late December, Trump doubled down on his executive order, despite the new evidence that it didn’t accomplish its stated goals. His administration announced that they will propose a new policy to limit states’ abilities to exempt SNAP recipients from work requirements. Similar policies were proposed in the Republican version of the Farm Bill, but were thankfully removed in the version that passed.

This is another effort on the part of Republicans to keep poor and brown people clinging to the edge of survival—studies have shown that work requirements disproportionately affect people of color. Not that any of this matters to Trump and his ilk. After all, the more poor people die young from insufficient access to food and healthcare, the fewer people there are to vote against the GOP.