(NaturalNews) While the mainstream media has all but convinced most Americans that the nation is slowly climbing out of the "recession," new statistics released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest otherwise. According to just-released participation numbers for the agency's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known more commonly as "food stamps," nearly one in six Americans now participates in the program, which represents a new record high.
Rising from 14.3 percent of the US population participating in the program back in February (http://www.naturalnews.com/032312_food_stamp...), the new numbers are a bit shocking when considering how many of these new enrollees actually are. It is not simply the very poor and chronic abusers that are taking advantage of the program -- many former middle class families now struggling just to get by are having to sign up for government food assistance.
According to the numbers, a record 44.647 million people are now enrolled in SNAP, up from 44.587 in May. Meanwhile, the average monthly benefit payment per household has dropped, and is now at a post-April 2009 revision low of $282.38 a month.
According to recent figures, 7.41 million people are now receiving state and federal unemployment benefits, which implies an unemployment rate of about 9.1 percent. Though upon first glance this appears to be lower than average unemployment rates throughout the past several years, these figures fail to take into account those that are underemployed and not receiving benefits, as well as those that have reluctantly taken part- or full-time jobs that do not pay nearly as much as those same workers were earning previously.
As opposed to the U-3 unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, the U-6 rate, which takes into account the aforementioned factors, is actually teetering at almost 16 percent as of May figures -- and in 2009, that rate was over 17 percent. This is nearly double the stated rate that is constantly repeated in mainstream news, and yet it is the more accurate figure that aligns with the true condition of the nation, and the subsequent increases in food stamp participation.