Data Snapshot: Both Rural and Urban SNAP Recipients Affected by Proposed Work Requirements

July 26, 2018

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Key Findings

Bag of Groceries with SNAP logo on it.
The Food and Nutrition Service reports that the average monthly SNAP benefit in 2016 was $255 per household.


With the expiration of the current Farm Bill on September 30, 2018, the House and Senate are working in conference committee to reconcile their versions of its replacement. A major difference between the two is the House’s inclusion of a more intensive work requirement. By narrowing the parental work exemption to only those with children under age 6, and requiring recipients up to age 60 (rather than 50) to work, the proposed House bill would newly subject about 16 percent of SNAP recipients in rural and urban places alike to work requirements. 

More than half (53 percent) of Americans who would be newly subjected to work requirements are already working 20 hours or more per week. Among those who are not working, 28.4 percent report “taking care of home/family” as the reason for not working, with 60 percent of this group having two or more children in the household. Given the scarcity and expense of child care nationwide, meeting work requirements may be challenging for some.

Figure 1.

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About the Author(s)

Jessica Carson
Jess Carson is a Research Assistant Professor with the Vulnerable Families Research Program at the Carsey School of Public Policy. Since joining Carsey in 2010, she has studied poverty, work, and the social safety net, including policies and programs that support low-income workers like affordable health insurance, food assistance programs, and quality child care. Her other interests include health within and across families, and the intersection of health and employment across the income spectrum. Jess is also working on a long-term project around the challenges and opportunities facing people who live and work in rural communities, with the goal of highlighting the strategies that work best to support them. She has a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of New Hampshire. Read More...


This analysis was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.