Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs)
April 22, 2004
ABAWD Waivers – New Method for Calculating Average Unemployment Rates
All Regional Directors
Food Stamp Program
Over the past few years the Food Stamp Program has developed a method for calculating average unemployment rates. These averages encompass 24 months when an ABAWD waiver is based on an average unemployment rate that is 20% above the national average. The averages encompass shorter periods for unemployment rates of at least 10%.
It has been brought to our attention that this method is not the most accurate method available. This old method also differed from the method for calculating average unemployment rates for an area that was composed of more than one county (or other civil jurisdiction).
Calculating 24-Month Average Unemployment Rates for One County or Jurisdiction
In order to use the most accurate method, and in order to be consistent in our calculations, we are adopting a new method which is attached. An example is also attached. We would appreciate it if you would inform your state agencies of this new method. For this spring and summer, if a State agency does not use this new method, the National Office will recalculate average unemployment rates the new way. Neither the State agencies nor the regional offices will need to recalculate.
The most obvious characteristic of the new method is that the state agency never averages monthly unemployment rates. That is no longer acceptable.
If a state agency calculates a 24-month average for a period other than a calendar or fiscal year, the state will also have to use this new method to calculate the national average unemployment rate for the same 24-month period. The only difference is that the rounding to one decimal place (please see Step Seven in the attachments) would not occur until after the state calculated 120% of the national average.
Calculating Other Averages
This same general method applies to ABAWD waivers that are based on an unemployment rate of more than 10%.
For Indian reservations, the same method also applies. The significant difference here is that the census share ratios have six decimal places and we never shorten these ratios to four.
We are asking that you advise the State agencies of the new calculation method. We are also asking that the State agencies adopt the new method in their future waiver requests.
If you have any questions about this method, please contact Thomas O’Connell of the Certification Policy Branch.
Program Development Division
Method for Calculating a 24-Month Average Unemployment Rate for One County
Example of the Method for Calculating a 24-Month Average Unemployment Rate for One County
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