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Food Insecurity Transitions and Changes in Employment and Earnings

Published:December 01, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amepre.2022.09.028

      Introduction

      Many low-income U.S. households experience food security changes over time, but little is known about how labor market transitions contribute to these changes. This paper uses longitudinal survey data collected from 2017 to 2020 to explore how changes in employment and earnings are associated with changes in food security status.

      Methods

      Analyses were conducted in the spring of 2022 and include nearly 3,500 individuals who participated in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training program. Individuals responded to surveys at 2 points in time—12 months and 36 months after study enrollment—which asked for employment, earnings, and food security information. Logistic regression models were used to estimate the associations between food security transitions and employment and earnings changes. Analyses also were conducted to assess whether these associations differed on the basis of individuals’ previous employment and earnings volatility.

      Results

      Individuals who experienced a job loss 2 months before the second survey interview had higher odds of becoming food insecure (OR=2.67; 95% CI=1.24, 5.75); those who experienced an earnings reduction in the month before the interview also had higher odds of becoming food insecure (OR=1.89; 95% CI=1.03, 3.47). The association between experiencing a job loss and becoming food insecure was greater among those who had experienced past earnings changes. There were no statistically significant associations between changes in earnings and employment and the likelihood of becoming food secure.

      Conclusions

      Employment losses and earnings reductions are associated with becoming food insecure among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training participants. Providing additional support to individuals who experience these losses and reductions may reduce their risk of becoming food insecure.
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