States that spend the most on welfare

By Government SpendingFOXBusiness

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While the economy has been on the upswing over the last year, the cost of living has continued to rise and incomes have remained stagnant, causing many state and local governments to continue to spend billions on public welfare each year.

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More than $637 billion was spent on welfare in the U.S. in 2016, according to the Census Bureau’s annual survey of state and local governments.

But some states are harder hit by welfare expenses than others, according to a new GoBankingRates study.

California, for example, has the highest total public welfare expenditures at around $98.5 billion, but is not listed as one of the states that spends the most on welfare per capita – New York is.

According to the report, New York spends $3,305 on welfare per capita, while its total public welfare expenditures are only $19.85 billion. The biggest factor contributing to the problem is the state’s high cost of living, which is the fifth-highest in the country.

Georgia has the lowest spending per capita at $1,126 with total public expenditures hitting $11.7 billion. The reason, opposite of New York, is because the state has among the lowest living costs in the country.

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However, the study notes that it’s not just living costs that come into play. Other factors include state budgets, median incomes, poverty rates, unemployment rates and income inequality.

Here are the top 10 states that spend the most on welfare per capita, according to GoBankingRates.com.

1. New York

Welfare spending per capita: $3,305

Total public welfare expenditures: $19.85 billion

Fact: New York has the fifth-highest cost of living in the country.

2. Alaska

Welfare spending per capita: $3,020

Total public welfare expenditures: $2.23 billion

Fact: Alaska is one of the least populous states, and its total public welfare spending is actually the sixth-lowest of all the states – even though its spending per capita is ranked No. 2.

3. Massachusetts

Welfare spending per capita: $2,911

Total public welfare expenditures: $19.97 billion

Fact: The percentage of Massachusetts households that lived in poverty during 2016-17 is 10.1 percent. Massachusetts is also the fourth-most expensive state to live in.

4. Vermont

Welfare spending per capita: $2,842

Total public welfare expenditures: $1.77 billion

Fact: Although Vermont’s welfare spending per capita is high, its total welfare spending is the fifth-lowest of all the states, which is likely due to its low population.

5. Minnesota

Welfare spending per capita: $2,805

Total public welfare expenditures: $15.64 billion

Fact: Minnesota is among the top five states that spend the most on welfare per capita, and it’s among the top 15 with the highest total public welfare expenditures.

6. New Mexico

Welfare spending per capita: $2,741

Total public welfare expenditures: $5.72 billion

Fact: New Mexico has the third-highest poverty rate in America at 18.2 percent.

7. Delaware

Welfare spending per capita: $2,544

Total public welfare expenditures: $2.45 billion

Fact: Per capita spending in Delaware is among the highest, but the state’s total welfare expenditures are the seventh-lowest of all the states. This is likely because it’s the sixth-least populous state.

8. Maine

Welfare spending per capita: $2,530

Total public welfare expenditures: $3.38 billion

Fact: Maine is one of the states that spends the most on welfare per capita. However, it’s among the top 15 states with the lowest total public welfare expenditures.

9. Oregon

Welfare spending per capita: $2,520

Total public welfare expenditures: $10.44 billion

Fact: Although Oregon spends a lot on welfare compared to other states, it’s not one of the best states for poor Americans, a separate GOBankingRates study found. This is due to an overall high cost of living, high crime rates and a lack of affordable housing.

10. Kentucky

Welfare spending per capita: $2,517

Total public welfare expenditures: $11.21 billion

Fact: The poverty rate in Kentucky is 14.8 percent – tied for the seventh-highest of all the states – which could account for its high welfare spending per capita.