The District and two states saw a drop in the number of residents using food stamps last year, as 13.6 million households nationwide received the federal benefit in a slowly rebounding economy.
According to newly released census data, nearly 12 of every 100 households nationwide last year -- a 16.2 percent increase from 2009 -- received food stamps. Yet, an estimated 3,376 fewer households in the District last year were on the food stamp rolls, for 28,656 of them, eclipsed by just Louisiana in percentage decrease, which had 11.8 percent fewer households on food stamps than in 2009, compared with 10.5 percent fewer in the District.
Analysts attributed the decline to an exodus of low-income D.C. residents to the Washington suburbs, particularly Prince George's County, as many were unable to afford the skyrocketing cost of living in the District.
|Who uses food stamps?|
|Source: U.S. Census Bureau|
"We're seeing more gentrification," said Daraius Irani, an economist at Towson University. "The population has shifted. There's been an outward migration. There are places where it's predominantly African-American but not at much as it was before."
That's not to say poverty has disappeared from the District.
D.C.'s median household income in 2010 -- $60,903 -- was just half that of top-ranking Loudoun County, census data show.
By comparison, 21.2 percent more Maryland households were on food stamps in 2010 than in 2009, for 178,730, and Virginia increased its ranks by 10.2 percent to 256,388.
Oregon had the highest share of households receiving food stamps last year, 17.9 percent. It was followed by Tennessee, 17 percent, and Michigan, 16.9 percent.
Nevada had the largest percentage increase in food stamp recipients last year, as nearly 50 percent more households received the perk. The Silver State was followed by Idaho and Rhode Island.
The states with the lowest participation rate were Wyoming at 6.2 percent and New Jersey and California, at 6.8 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.
Louisiana was the lone state to experience a "significant" decrease in the receipt of food stamps last year, according to the Census Bureau.
Irani predicted the D.C. downward trend in food stamps would continue.
"As D.C. becomes wealthier, housing becomes more expensive," he said. "And more [low-income] people move away."