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FRED recently added SNAP data. SNAP stands for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”—more commonly referred to as food stamps. FRED has data at the state and county level on the number of benefit recipients for the past 30 years or so. In the graph here, we chose five states with similar population size. A few points stand out: 1) It’s remarkable how little the state rankings have changed over the years. The rise of Arizona is likely due to a relative population increase. 2) Apparent seasonal fluctuations in some states disappear after a few years. 3) Since 2000, the numbers of recipients has more than doubled; in Massachusetts, it quadrupled. This rise has occurred through both booms and recessions and cannot be explained by population increases.

How this graph was created: Search for SNAP, then restrict the results by selecting the “monthly” and “states” tags in the sidebar. Then choose your states and click “Add to Graph.”

Suggested by Christian Zimmermann

View on FRED, series used in this post: BRAZ04M647NCEN, BRIN18M647NCEN, BRMA25M647NCEN, BRTN47M647NCEN, BRWA53M647NCEN

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