In what is to many analysts a sign that the US is having trouble getting its economy into gear, New Jersey has had a steady increase of the number of its residents relying on food stamps over the past four years.
Recently released statistics attest to the fact that since 2008 the number of New Jersey residents receiving food stamp benefits has doubled, and that that number is at its highest point in over a decade.
The data released by the state Department of Human Services shows that there are well over 400,000 households enrolled in the food stamp program, accounting for almost 822,000 individuals. These numbers signify that about 10 percent of New Jersey residents are dependent on food stamps for their sustenance.
The numbers are even more telling when one realizes that New Jersey happens to be one of the country’s wealthier states, coming in second place in household income as of last year.
There is a twinkle of hope yet on the horizon. Since November of 2008 the number of households enrolled in the food stamp program consistently grew by double digits year after year, reaching its peak growth rate this past March when the number of households receiving food stamps went up by 28.6 percent over the previous March. Four months later, in July, the increase was only 18.2 percent perhaps signifying a plateauing of the numbers.
According to some experts, it is just too early to tell if this is really a sign of the economic recovery getting back on track.
“There seems to be signs of things picking up, but until there’s significant job creation in Morris County and throughout New Jersey, you are going to see a large increase in those seeking assistance,” said Frank Pinto, director of the Morris County Department of Human Services.