business news in context, analysis with attitude

Axios reports that new government data suggests that "food insecurity spiked last year" in the US.

According to the data, "The rate of food insecurity greatly increased from 2001 to 2011, peaking at 14.9%, before falling until 2021. There was a sharp increase to 12.8% in 2022 … The share of households that couldn't reliably afford food rose to 12.8% from 10.2% … Food insecurity, per the USDA's definition, means that at times during the year, a given household was unable to acquire an adequate amount of food for one or more of its members because they didn't have enough money or resources."

Axios writes that "among households with children, 17.3% are food insecure, up nearly 5 percentage points from the previous year. The last time that number was higher was in 2014.  About 4.1 million more children were living in food-insecure homes last year than in 2021.

"There was a significant racial disparity as well: 22% of Black (non-Hispanic) households with children were food insecure; 21% of Hispanic households.

The numbers are also higher for those with children under 6 years old (17%) — where parents are more constrained by costly child care needs — and households headed by a single mother (33%)."

The story also points out that "the disappearance of pandemic-era supports like the child tax credit, which was used by many families with children to buy food and brought down food insecurity rates in 2021, played a role here.  But it's complicated. Some SNAP benefits were increased in 2022."  If they hadn't, experts say, things could have been a lot worse.

Inflation almost certainly also played a role, Axios writes.

KC's View:

Continuing food insecurity opens a window for discounters and dollar stores to earn a higher market share in the US - a reality with which traditional retailers must grapple.  

One of the things that this report also seems to underline is how many different economies are operating in parallel - even as unemployment remains low and wages go up, there are still people in this country who remain hungry.   Which should be unacceptable in a country like the United States.