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The State of Welfare in America: A Look at Social Assistance Programs and Spending

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The State of Welfare in America: A Look at Social Assistance Programs and Spending

The United States is home to around 65 million people who rely on social assistance programs to meet their basic needs. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), approximately 40 million people benefit from food stamps.

The federal government offers several wellness initiatives, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid.

When it comes to the states with the largest number of welfare recipients, the data from SNAP shows that California leads the pack with 1,911,000 SNAP households, closely followed by Florida (1,632,000) and Texas (1,595,000). New York and Pennsylvania round out the top five, highlighting a correlation between high-population states and the prevalence of welfare recipients.

It’s important to note that the number of households in SNAP does not necessarily equal the total number of people receiving benefits within a state. California also stands out as the state with the highest number of welfare recipients, with 237,614 TANF beneficiaries and approximately 13,812,733 individuals enrolled in Medicaid.

In 2020, state and local governments collectively spent $791 billion on public welfare, which represented 23 percent of direct overhead expenses. Per capita spending varied significantly, ranging from $1,093 in Connecticut to $4,119 in New York. Other states with notable public welfare spending per capita were Alaska, Massachusetts, and New Mexico.

When it comes to state and local welfare spending per capita, the five states that allocate the most funds to welfare programs are predominantly on the coasts. California spends approximately $3,403 per capita, followed by New Mexico with $3,488, Massachusetts with $3,657, Alaska with approximately $3,729, and New York, leading the table with approximately $4,119 per capita in local welfare spending.

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