This story has been circulating through the conservative media channels:

In the average month of 2012, according to the Department of Agriculture, there were 46,609,000 people participating in the food stamp program (formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). That contrasts with the 44,059,000 women who worked full-time, year-round in 2012, according to the Census Bureau’s report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States.

  • 10
    Whether it's true or not, what's the significance of the metric?
    – Johnny
    Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 23:36
  • 2
    @Johnny That if women stopped working, then all the unemployed men out there could find a job, one presumes. Pro-tip: unemployment does not work that way.
    – Golden Cuy
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 10:36
  • 3
    What about the overlap between women who work AND whom receive benefits?
    – GHP
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 18:23
  • How is " full-time work" defined? Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 10:50

1 Answer 1



The count of the number of people participating in the the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) checks out from the Department of Agriculture figures. At the time of writing, the original web-site is down, but Google cache covers it:

Excerpt from Google cache of Dept of Agriculture table

The figures quoted for women working full-time are indirectly calculated. Going back to the original source, we get slightly different figures.

Excerpt from Census Fact Finder

From this table, we can see the working age population of women is estimated at 103,214,187, and that 40.2% of those are working the full year (50-52 weeks), full-time (more than 35 hours).

Multiplying that out we get about 41.5 million full-time working-age women, which is well less than the 46.6 million participants in SNAP - even when the given error bars are considered.

It must be pointed out that this is a rather meaningless comparison. It is difficult to see what policy decisions could be made based on this comparison of apples and oranges.

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