TANF Caseloads Have Not Responded to Rising Unemployment

Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of families receiving TANF benefits has increased by only 5 percent, and has actually declined by 1.82 percent since October 2006.  In the same timeframe (since December 2007), the number of unemployed persons has increased by 96 percent.  Compared to TANF, SNAP (formerly food stamps) has been much more responsive to rising unemployment: the number of families receiving SNAP benefits has increased by 37 percent.

The failure of TANF caseloads to respond significantly to the recession reflects a longer-term trend.  Since the enactment of TANF in August 1996, the number of TANF families has declined by 60.6 percent.

TANF Caseloads

Sources: Administration for Children and Families, Food and Nutrition Service, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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