Although Michigan’s unemployment rate has been dropping lately, there’s been a disturbing counter-trend developing over the last decade.
One in five people in the state received government food assistance in 2011, up from 1 in 16 in 2001.
Michigan has seen the number of food assistance recipients climb dramatically during the same time period, increasing from 623,335 in 2001 to 1.9 million in 2011, according to James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The state’s population has remained about the same over the last decade. There were 9.9 million people in 2001 and 9.8 million people in 2011.
The number of people receiving food assistance jumped by 152,110 from 2010 to 2011, despite an upturn in the state’s economy.
“More and more people are using other people’s money to pay their grocery bills and the dramatic increase does not appear to be justified by the recession,” Hohman said.
According to the Department of Human Services, the number of people nationwide receiving food assistance increased from 28 million in 2008 to nearly 45 million through January of 2012.
Local and national experts are not sure why this trend is happening.
Michigan’s unemployment rate has steadily dropped since last August. The unemployment rate was 11.2 percent in August and was 9.8 percent in November. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said its preliminary figure for unemployment in December is 9.3 percent.