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Oct 13 -- The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) invites public comment by November 13, 2020 on its request that OMB approve a new Survey of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Work. The purpose of the Survey of SNAP and Work is to provide FNS and State SNAP agencies with information about the employment patterns and characteristics of nondisabled adult SNAP participants, information not currently collected in the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (CPS) or other available data sets. In addition, the Survey of SNAP and Work will identify health, social, and personal factors that promote or inhibit employment among SNAP participants. The survey will be conducted by Westat.
 
About one-third of SNAP households have earnings from employment.  However, we know few details about current job characteristics and work histories of adults participating in SNAP. In order to gain a better understanding of current and past workforce participation characteristics among nondisabled adult SNAP participants, FNS will conduct the Survey of SNAP and Work. Through a national survey of nondisabled  current SNAP participants aged 18 to 69, information on employment status, length of workforce detachment, types of job held, education and training, and social, physical, and environmental barriers to work will be collected. The survey will provide data for calculating both national and State-level estimates. FNS seeks OMB clearance for the survey data collection that will begin in January 2021.
 
Specifically, the six study objectives are:
    Objective 1: Produce descriptive statistics on sociodemographic and economic characteristics.
    Objective 2: Produce descriptive statistics on employment status and employment characteristics.
    Objective 3: Produce descriptive statistics on length of detachment from the workforce.
    Objective 4: Produce descriptive statistics on education and training.
    Objective 5: Produce descriptive statistics on health, social, and personal factors related to employment.
    Objective 6: Examine the individual associations between key characteristics and employment status adjusted for other relevant characteristics.
 
In the current policy environment, national- and State-level estimates are particularly important. On a local level, the ability to transition nondisabled adult SNAP recipients into work depends, in part, on local policy choices and budget resources, the nature of accessible E&T services, local barriers, and—perhaps most important—the local work environment. While national estimates can yield valuable policy insights, State-level estimates are likely to provide both policy and operational insight to the challenges and opportunities for transitioning recipients into employment.

This survey occurs in the context of expiring waivers on ABAWD (able-bodied adult without dependents) time limits in many States. The survey will provide information on the extent to which SNAP participants face challenges that interfere with compliance with work requirements or participation in training programs, and ultimately, obtaining and retaining jobs. By seeking to understand the employability of SNAP participants, this study will provide information about individuals vulnerable to losing SNAP benefits due to weak connection to the labor market. The results of this study can be used by SNAP E&T administrators to design programs that are tailored to the specific work histories and barriers faced by SNAP participants in their local environments.

We consulted with a peer advisory panel during the study’s planning and design phase about the research design, sample design, data sources and needs, and study reports.

Benjamin Reist    Assistant Center Chief for Research, Center for Adaptive Design in Research and Methodology Directorate at U.S. Census Bureau    Benjamin.M.Reist@census.gov
Dottie Rosenbaum    Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities    rosenbaum@cbpp.org
Yvette Chocolaad    Policy Director, National Association of State Workforce Agencies    ychocolaad@naswa.org
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach    Director, Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University; research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research    dws@northwestern.edu
Laura Tiehen    Economist, Food Assistance Branch of the Economic Research Service's Food Economics Division     LTIEHEN@ers.usda.gov

For the State SNAP agencies, no sampling will be used. We will contact the universe of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. For the respondent universe of nondisabled SNAP recipients, ages 18 to 69, we will use a two-stage stratified sample design to produce State-level estimates. A two-stage design provides efficiency by clustering sampled SNAP participants in smaller geographic areas for a more efficient in-person data collection effort. In the first stage, we will select primary sampling units (PSUs) in each State and the District of Columbia (DC) with probability proportional to the number of SNAP participants as measured by the American Community Survey (ACS). The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Program provides single year estimates for all U.S. states and counties. Model input data includes state SNAP benefits data. State-level files contain the number of SNAP recipients by month, and the county level files contain the number of recipients in July of each year. To ensure representation of rural areas in the PSU sample, we will employ a measure of urbanicity to form PSU strata with similar population density levels. The measure of urbanicity will be the percentage of the population living in urban areas according to data from the 2010 Census.   This will result in the selection of rural PSUs from rural strata at the appropriate representative proportion for each State.

At the second stage, we will sample nondisabled SNAP participants ages 18 to 69 in each PSU. SNAP participants include all SNAP participants living in SNAP households and eligible to receive SNAP benefits. We will select the sample in each State from State SNAP agency data on participants during a calendar month, referred to as the “sample month.” The State agency data will include lists of all SNAP participants residing in sampled PSUs, including names, addresses, and telephone numbers, as well as demographic variables about individuals/households. We will sample age groups (18-49, 50-59, 60-64, 65-69) to proportionally represent nondisabled SNAP participants in each State, thereby ensuring adequate representation of age groups at the National-level for more detailed analysis than will be possible at the State-level. We will seek 780 completed interviews per State, and 39,780 interviews overall.
 
Survey of SNAP and Work proposal to OMB:  https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202005-0584-004  Click on IC list for survey instruments. Click on  View Supporting Statement for details on plans, survey and statistical methods.
FR notice inviting public comment: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/10/13/2020-22531/submission-for-omb-review-comment-request
 
Point of contact: Frank Bennici    Senior Study Director, Westat    301-738-3608
 
For AEA members wishing to provide comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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