Economy

States With the Most Government Benefits

5. Connecticut
> Economic security grade: C+
> Median household income: $65,753 (4th highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $7,846 (11th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $3,754 (5th highest)

Connecticut received a B- in job quality, a higher grade than any other state in the country. Among the reasons, Connecticut received the highest grade for its sick leave policies — the state passed a law that took effect in January 2012 and that required employers with at least 50 workers to provide one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Also, the state’s $8.25 an hour minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Connecticut also received high marks for its strong housing trust funds and its generous Medicaid spending per capita.

Also Read: States Spending the Most on Education

4. Wisconsin
> Economic security grade: C+
> Median household income: $50,395 (21st highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $6,889 (20th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,692 (17th highest)

Most states in the country perform poorly for the quality of their job market. Wisconsin is one of the exceptions. Employers in the state are required to provide workers with a fairly generous sick leave policy. Additionally, in 2011, 74% of workers who did not have a job received unemployment insurance, among the highest of all states in the nation. But Wisconsin’s recent past has included a great deal of controversy between labor unions and state policy makers. In 2011, Governor Scott Walker pushed through a bill that cut state workers’ collective bargaining rights as part of a plan to close a the state’s budget deficit. This resulted in labor protests and a recall election.

3. Oregon
> Economic security grade: C+
> Median household income: $46,816 (22nd lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $7,060 (18th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,104 (16th lowest)

Oregon’s minimum wage in 2012 was $8.80 per hour, higher than any other state except for Washington. Like a handful of other states, Oregon’s minimum wage is tied by state law to inflation, which lifted the minimum wage up to $8.95 in 2013. Oregon’s eligibility requirements for children under 19 to receive health insurance through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are among the most generous in the country. In 2011, the state made CHIP available to children in households earning up to 300% of the poverty line for a family of three, or $55,590.

2. Vermont
> Economic security grade: C+
> Median household income: $52,776 (19th highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $9,345 (4th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $4,293 (4th highest)

Vermont has as minimum wage of $8.46 an hour, the third highest in the country, behind Washington and Oregon. The state also ensures this figure rises each year, either by 5% or by the percentage change in inflation. Few states offer an earned income tax credit as generous as Vermont’s, which equals up to 32% of the federal income tax credit. In order to fund policies that promote economic security, Vermont also taxes residents more than most other states. For fiscal year 2011, the state collected $4,293 per person, higher than all but three states.

1. Washington
> Economic security grade: B-
> Median household income: $56,835 (12th highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $6,735 (24th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,566 (19th highest)

No state is more generous than Washington in making benefits available to residents. Washington is the only state to receive an A for policies affecting income. The state had the highest minimum wage in the country in 2012, at $9.04 per hour. Washington is one of a minority of states to index its minimum wage to inflation. In 2013, the minimum wage increased to $9.19 an hour. Washington is also one of two states to receive a perfect score for its commitment to its housing trust fund — the Washington State Housing Trust Fund has built 40,000 units and awarded more than $1 billion since 1987. The state also received high marks for the ease of its 529 college savings plans and the state’s strict laws on mortgage fraud.

Also Read: States with the Least Government Benefits