Number of the Day Shows Even Full-Time Workers Need Aid

Our take on the most relevant or interesting figure in personal finance today

Number of the Day

That’s how many adult wage-earners enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in 2018 were in the program despite working full-time hours for at least part of the year, according to a new government analysis.

In fact, more than two-thirds of adults in both SNAP and Medicaid worked full-time (at least 35 hours a week) for some of 2018 and about half worked that much for virtually all of the year, according to estimates in a report released this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The report showed just how common it is for full-time workers to participate in social safety net programs that help with basic needs like health care and food.

The findings of the report, which was commissioned by Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont, prompted criticism from Sanders, who called the federal minimum wage a “starvation wage.” He and other liberals including President-Elect Joe Biden have been a vocal proponent of raising the federal minimum to $15 from $7.25 an hour.

Most adult wage-earners enrolled in the two programs worked in the five industries with the highest concentrations of low-wage workers: education and health services, leisure and hospitality, wholesale and retail trade, professional and business services, and manufacturing, according to the report.