Despite a slowly improving economy and falling unemployment, the agency that cares for Idaho's poor and disabled residents says there's plenty of evidence that people are still struggling.

Food stamp recipients hit a record in December, with 235,000 people receiving the federal aid. The monthly payout is $30 million. There are so many people getting help, grocery stores have complained the deluge on the first day of every month has interrupted their business. What's more, the fund that pays the Idaho indigent population's medical bills expects to spend nearly $40 million this year, a 14 percent spike. To top it off, Department of Health and Welfare Director Dick Armstrong told budget writers Monday morning some of his best employees are quitting, lured by private-sector salaries that are 40 percent higher.