There are more Americans on food stamps than on unemployment, and economists say that's a bad sign about the current recovery and where it might be going.
People at the East Side Work One office told RTV6 that food stamps are a critical lifeline, just like unemployment checks.
"They're very important, because I don't get enough unemployment to put food in my house," said one person. She said without them, she would probably go hungry.
"Food stamps are very important," said another. "I have a nephew that I'm taking care of for my brother, and it helps us to eat."
There are roughly 19 million people unemployed, but 22 million households on food stamps.
In Indiana, more than 900,000 people receive food stamps.
Family and Social Services Administration officials said that is an all-time high.
Economists said that's a bad sign, because it shows that even many Americans who are working can't afford to feed their families without government assistance.
"This is a trend in the wrong direction," said economics professor Matthew Will of the University of Indianapolis. "You know, we would hope that people would be employed, we'd be reducing unemployment, we'd be reducing food stamp usage. But, in fact, the opposite is happening. So definitely, it's not a move in the right direction."
Advocates for the poor said this shows how middle class jobs are being replaced with low-paying work that won't support families.
According to the National Employment Law Project, nearly 60 percent of all new jobs created in the last two years paid less than $13.83 per hour, with less than 22 percent in the mid-wage bracket.
"Our workforce is becoming less and less unionized," said advocate John Cardwell. "There is a strong correlation between having a unionized workforce, higher wages and people being able to put food on their table."
Advocates for the poor said heavy food stamp usage can be looked at in two ways -- it's not good that the economy is bad, but it is good that there's a mechanism for taking care of the needy.
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