Data Snapshot: SNAP Declines Continue in 2016, but Not for Rural Places

November 9, 2017

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Key Findings

Image of SNAP Logo
The Food and Nutrition Service reports that the average monthly SNAP benefit in 2016 was $255 per household.


In 2016, 12.4 percent of households reported Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps) receipt, down 0.4 percentage point from 2015. Similar declines in suburbs and cities drove the national decrease, but the 14.8 percent of rural households receiving SNAP did not significantly change between 2015 and 2016.

Median income in rural SNAP households, at $17,884, was lower than in cities ($19,873) and suburbs ($24,583). Overall, SNAP receipt remains higher than before the Great Recession, though rates are slowly declining (see Figure 1). The share of SNAP households containing at least one worker increased between 2015 and 2016 (to 79.1 percent) as working families continue to struggle to make ends meet.

figure 1.

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About the Author(s)

Jessica Carson
Jess Carson is a Vulnerable Families Research Scientist at the Carsey School of Public Policy. Jess joined Carsey in May 2010 to study issues that affect vulnerable families and children. Much of her work at Carsey focuses on poverty, work, and the social safety net, including policies and programs that support low-income workers, such as food assistance programs, the minimum wage, and public health insurance. Read More...


This analysis was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Wellspring Philanthropic Fund.