The NYT continues to do as much as anyone with data-driven stories. Today on A1 was a feature about the rise and concomitant de-stigmatization of food stamp usage across the country. But the interactive map on the NYT web site tells the stories behind the story.
In Texas, the Rio Grande Valley is predictable tale of woe; Hidalgo County has the largest percentage of food stamp recipients of any county in the U.S. with over 500k residents (29% vs. a national average of 11.5%).
Closer to home, the story is more surprising. Travis County, which most of us tend to regard as a relatively insulated economic island, didn’t fare so well. Between 2007 and 2009, food stamp usage went up 50% in Travis, a rate of change that landed it in the 82nd percentile across all counties in the nation (average was 34%). Adjacent Williamson County–home of Dell–is far worse, still: up 100%, ranking it 48th out of 3,136 counties nationwide (98th percentile), and the third largest of the bottom 50 counties.
So, poverty-wise: what’s the matter with Central Texas? Kudos to the NYT for providing the starting point to investigate the question.