Thirteen previously exempted Alabama counties saw an 85 percent drop in food stamp participation after work requirements were put in place on Jan. 1, according to the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
The counties – Greene, Hale, Perry, Dallas, Lowndes, Wilcox, Monroe, Conecuh, Clarke, Washington, Choctaw, Sumter and Barbour – had been exempt from a change that limited able-bodied adults without dependents to three months of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits within a three-year time frame unless they were working or participating in an approved training program.
During the economic downturn of 2011-2013, several states – including Alabama – waived the SNAP work requirements in response to high unemployment. It was reinstituted for 54 counties on Jan. 1, 2016 and for the remaining 13 on Jan. 1, 2017. As of April 2017, the highest jobless rate among the 13 previously excluded counties was in Wilcox County, which reported a state-high unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, down more than 11 percentage points from the county’s jobless rate for the same month of 2011.
Ending the exemption has dramatically cut the number of SNAP recipients in the counties.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, there were 13,663 able-bodied adults without dependents receiving food stamps statewide. That number dropped to 7,483 by May 1, 2017. Among the 13 counties, there were 5,538 adults ages 18-50 without dependents receiving food stamps as of Jan. 1, 2017. That number dropped to 831 – a decline of about 85 percent – by May 1, 2017.