When it comes to playing the blame game of who depends most on taxpayer dollars and government resources, many Americans have a specific demographic in mind. The infamous image of the so called “Welfare Queen”—a derogatory term first introduced during Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign in the 1970’s, which was used to describe a woman who abuses the welfare system and collects payments through fraud – is still today a pervasive stereotype for individuals who rely on welfare. The term often carries a racial stigma, largely due to the fact of the persistent income inequality in America which most negatively impacts racial minorities: Historic models of oppression have resulted in the unequal footing of racial minorities when compared to the customarily better-of white American population.
For those suffering at the wrong side of the United States’ income inequality problem, relying on government assistance is less an abusive measure and more commonly a crucial means of survival. Of course, it’s important to remember that depending on government aid isn’t just a question of receiving food stamps or welfare checks; thousands of students rely on government-funded scholarships to fund the cost of a college education worth thousands of dollars a year. Individuals who cannot afford the cost of healthcare also rely on government-funded healthcare systems like Medicaid in order to receive medical coverage, for which the average $8 dollar an hour salary simply cannot accommodate.
The Census Bureau has estimated that 49 percent of Americans rely on some form of government benefit. Considering that such a huge portion of the American population depends on government assistance, it’s obvious that it’s a necessary governmental expense. Regions that some might accuse of ‘draining’ government resources are in fact regions that depend on aid to become better educated, to stay healthy, to flourish and, in turn, to give back to the nation’s economy.
The following list ranks states based on the number of individuals enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Medicaid, which are each government-funded assistance programs, based on numbers collected between 2011 to 2012. It’s worth keeping in mind that there cannot feasibly be a comparison drawn between the number of working people in a given state and those who rely on government assistance alone and vice versa, since many working Americans also rely on government assistance. Attempting to decipher how many Americans are employed versus how many rely on government assistance results in overlap and double-counting, thus making the claim that in some states people work more whereas in others people are more dependent on the government is evidently erroneous.
Maine has a total population of 1,328,302. In 2012, 282,700 residents were enrolled in Medicaid. 250, 912 people in Maine received nutrition assistance under the SNAP program and in 2011, 25, 044 people were enrolled under TANF. In 2012, 594, 300 residents of Maine were also reportedly employed.
9. South Carolina
The state of South Carolina is home to 4,774,839 people and in 2012, 1,874,500 were employed. 38,332 South Carolina residents were enrolled in TANF and 691,500 received Medicaid. In 2012, 875, 328 people in South Carolina received nutrition assistance from a government funded program.
Kentucky has a total population of 4,395,295. In 2012, 1,835,700 people were employed. In 2011, 62, 726 residents of Kentucky were enrolled in TANF and 794,000 were covered under Medicaid. In 2012, 867, 676 Kentucky residents received nutrition assistance from SNAP.
7. New Mexico
The state of New Mexico has a population of 2,085,287. Out of all of these residents, approximately 49,936 were enrolled in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in 2011 and 442,237 received nutrition assistance in this same year. 507,300 residents of New Mexico were enrolled in Medicaid in 2012. That same year, 798,300 New Mexico residents were employed.
Mississippi is home to 2,991,207 people. In 2011, 26,401 of residents were enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, and in 2012, 669,930 were enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In 2011, an estimated 617,800 were insured under Medicaid. In 2012,
1,093,200 of Mississippians were employed.
Ohio has a total population of 11,570,808. 193,447 state residents are enrolled in TANF in 2011 and 1,804,887 received nutrition assitance in 2012. Also in 2012, 1,991,800 people in Ohio were enrolled in Medicaid.
5, 727, 400 were employed in Illinois in 2012.
In Alabama, out of a population of 4,833,722, 55,835 residents received aid under the TANF program, and another 832, 300 were insured under Medicaid in 2011. In 2012, 919,211 Alabamans received nutrition assistance under the SNAP program. In 2012, 1, 881, 700 residents in Alabama were employed.
Illinois is home to 12,882,135 residents, and due to the fact that 99,843 people in this state were enrolled in TANF in 2011, 2,004,436 received nutrition assistance, and 2,566,200 were enrolled in government funded medical insurance in 2012, it’s the 3rd most government dependent state in the country. 5,727, 400 people were employed in Illinois in 2012.
2. New York
New York is the second most government-dependent state in America with a population of 19,651,127. 279,663 New Yorkers are enrolled in TANF in 2011, 3,110,070 received nutrition assistance in 2012, and 4,928,000 are enrolled in Medicaid as of 2012. 8,800,300 New Yorkers were reportedly employed in 2012 also.
The number one state that depends on government assistance and benefits the most is California, which is home to a population of 38,332,521. In 2011, 1, 412,397 Californians received aid under the TANF program and 7,367,600 were insured under Medicaid. In 2012, 4, 107,543 California residents received nutrition assistance under the SNAP program. About 14, 406,400 Californians were employed at this time as well.