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FGA Research Finds Labor Force Has Shrunk With Uptick in Food Stamp Enrollment

Naples, FL—Recent findings from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) show that labor force participation rates have shrunk as food stamp enrollment has rapidly increased over the last two decades.

Over the same time frame, the number of work registrants—able-bodied adults on food stamps without children under the age of six—has skyrocketed. Today, there are more than 12 million work registrants, compared to fewer than 2 million in 2000.

In 2019, nearly 65 percent of able-bodied adults ages 18 to 59 receiving food stamps were not working. Due to the pandemic, suspended work requirements, and benefit expansions, the situation is likely much worse now and a majority of work registrants are able to collect benefits without working at all.

However, FGA reports that states can get people back to work by utilizing state employment and training (E&T) programs. State E&T programs are well-funded programs that provide participants with avenues to acquire technical skills, receive career coaching, and find work opportunities. Participation in these programs is voluntary in most states. By making participation mandatory, states can help move these able-bodied adults from welfare to work, even with the work requirement for able-bodied adults still suspended.

“We are facing one of the worst labor shortages in our country’s history. With more than 11 million open jobs nationwide, there has never been a better time to return to work,” said Jonathan Bain, a Senior Research Fellow at FGA. “State lawmakers can help move able-bodied adults on food stamps from dependency to prosperity by making E&T assignments mandatory.”

FGA’s research shows that by requiring able-bodied adults on food stamps to participate in state E&T programs, states can address their shrinking workforces and move able-bodied adults from welfare to work.


The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) is a non-profit, multi-state think tank that promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream. To learn more, visit


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