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Abstract

This study investigates the impacts of USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) redemptions (the value of SNAP benefits redeemed by SNAP-authorized stores) on metro and nonmetro county-level employment from 2001 to 2014. SNAP redemptions had a positive average impact on county-level employment over the entire study period in nonmetro counties (about 0.4 additional job per $10,000 of additional SNAP redemptions) but no measurable impact overall in metro counties. The impacts of SNAP redemptions during and immediately after the Great Recession (2008-10) differed from impacts in nonrecession years in both nonmetro and metro counties. During the recession, an additional $10,000 of SNAP redemptions led to about 1.0 additional job on average in nonmetro counties and about 0.4 additional job in metro counties. Prior to the recession (2001-07), the SNAP impact was positive in nonmetro counties (0.2 job per $10,000) but negative in metro counties (-0.2 job per $10,000). After the recession (2011-14), SNAP redemptions had a statistically insignificant impact in both nonmetro and metro counties. Moreover, during the Great Recession, the impacts per dollar of SNAP redemptions were greater than impacts of other Federal or State government transfer payments combined and greater than the impacts of all Federal Government spending combined. SNAP redemptions also had positive effects on employment in neighboring nonmetro counties but not in neighboring metro counties. These results were robust across several econometric methods.

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