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Prevalence of U.S. Food Insecurity Is Related to Changes in Unemployment, Inflation, and the Price of Food: Economic Research Report Number 167

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This report examines the extent to which year-to-year changes in the prevalence of U.S. household food insecurity can be explained by changes in the national unemployment rate, inflation, and the price of food relative to other goods and services. Data are from the 2001-12 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements and statistics on employment and prices from the This report examines the extent to which year-to-year changes in the prevalence of U.S. household food insecurity can be explained by changes in the national unemployment rate, inflation, and the price of food relative to other goods and services. Data are from the 2001-12 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements and statistics on employment and prices from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Understanding the strength and consistency of these associations can broaden understanding of how national and household economic conditions affect food insecurity. As an example, the report sheds light on why food security has remained essentially unchanged since the 2007-09 recession. Falling unemployment from early post-recession (2009-10) to 2012, absent any other changes, would suggest a modest decline in the prevalence of food insecurity. However, this report finds that potential improvement was almost exactly offset by the effects of higher inflation and the higher relative price of food in 2012.


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This report examines the extent to which year-to-year changes in the prevalence of U.S. household food insecurity can be explained by changes in the national unemployment rate, inflation, and the price of food relative to other goods and services. Data are from the 2001-12 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements and statistics on employment and prices from the This report examines the extent to which year-to-year changes in the prevalence of U.S. household food insecurity can be explained by changes in the national unemployment rate, inflation, and the price of food relative to other goods and services. Data are from the 2001-12 Current Population Survey Food Security Supplements and statistics on employment and prices from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Understanding the strength and consistency of these associations can broaden understanding of how national and household economic conditions affect food insecurity. As an example, the report sheds light on why food security has remained essentially unchanged since the 2007-09 recession. Falling unemployment from early post-recession (2009-10) to 2012, absent any other changes, would suggest a modest decline in the prevalence of food insecurity. However, this report finds that potential improvement was almost exactly offset by the effects of higher inflation and the higher relative price of food in 2012.

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