Many Families Turn to Public Services Following Recession

While the recession is officially over, many Pennsylvania families are still struggling to make ends meet. The state unemployment rate is high, overall work hours are down, and more people are losing their health insurance.

As a result, more Pennsylvanians are turning to the commonwealth for help with basic necessities and health care for themselves and their children. The tables below show how public services are filling the gap created by the economic slowdown in the private sector.

Cash Assistance, Food Stamps, Medical Assistance & CHIP

The following table tracks the growing demand for public health care and human services.

Health and Human Services Enrollment Numbers

  2007-2008 December 2007 February 2014 % Change Since Recession Began Dec 07
Cash Assistance (TANF) 207,700 207,195 188,015 -9.26%
General Assistance* 57,863 57,357 406 -99.29%
Food Stamps (SNAP) 1,171,858 1,168,067 1,806,006 +54.61%
Medical Assistance** 1,915,407 1,893,949 2,210,693 +16.72%
Medical Assistance (Children) 980,575 970,816 1,079,604 +11.21%
CHIP*** 167,583 166,151 187,003 +12.55%
Source. Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare
* General Assistance was mostly eliminated effective August 1, 2012. Read more here.
** Overall Medical Assistance enrollment was reduced by more than 64,000 people between August and December 2011. Medical Assistance enrollment for children was reduced by more than 88,000 between August and December 2011. For more on this large scale reduction in MA enrollment, read this Philadelphia Inquirer article from January. Between August 2011 and June 2012, MA enrollment has declined by more than 53,000, including more than 91,000 children.
*** Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) was expanded in the 2006-07 Fiscal Year.


More than 41,000 Pennsylvanians have lost their adultBasic health insurance coverage with the expiration of the program on March 1, 2011. 

AdultBasic, created in 2002 under former Governor Tom Ridge, provided affordable basic health care to Pennsylvanians between ages 19 and 65 earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level.

Read more about the funding crisis and Governor Corbett's decision to allow the program to end.