Economy

States With the Most Government Benefits

10. Missouri
> Economic security grade:
C-
> Median household income: $45,247 (15th lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,099 (8th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,684 (5th lowest)

While Missouri ranks as the 10th worst state for economic security in the country according to WOW, it actually performs well in policies related to public support programs. In 2011, it spent 36.3% of its total expenditures on Medicaid, more than than any state in the country. On the other hand, the state fails in other areas, receiving a D- in job quality policies and a D in income policies. As of May 2012, unemployment benefits granted lasted a maximum just 56 weeks, less than the average by nearly 20 weeks. Recently, Governor Jay Nixon vetoed a budget bill that would have cut tax collections over ten years. He also recently vetoed a bill that would have removed a tax credit for low-income seniors.

Also Read: Cities Where Suburban Poverty Is Skyrocketing

9. North Dakota
> Economic security grade: C-
> Median household income: $51,704 (20th highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $8,065 (8th highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $5,627 (2nd highest)

North Dakota ranks as one of the worst states in promoting policies that support residents’ economic security due in part to the absence of generous tax credits. The state also loses marks for its minimum wage, which, at $7.25 an hour, is equal to the federal minimum. The state’s support programs also rank among the worst in the nation. For example, North Dakota only allows families earning up to 160% of the federal poverty level to be eligible for their State Child Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP), lower than any other state.

8. Indiana
> Economic security grade: C-
> Median household income: $46,438 (20th lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,411 (9th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,292 (22nd lowest)

Indiana received a D+ in education and training, with the state’s Workforce Investment Act training one of the least successful in the country. Barely half of the workers who completed the program in 2009 and 2010 found employment by the end of 2010. In states like Michigan, the success rate was nearly 90%. With such low success, the state’s unemployment rate remained among the highest in the country at 8.5%. The state also received an F for setting a very low cutoff for families receiving child care subsidies, at 39% of the state’s median income. Most states have a cutoff of at least 50% of the state median income. Indiana also scored Ds for setting strict limits on food stamps, TANF welfare and Medicaid eligibility.

7. South Dakota
> Economic security grade: C-
> Median household income: $48,321 (23rd lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,459 (10th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,682 (tied-3rd lowest)

South Dakota is rated among the worst in the U.S. for its poor quality support programs for residents. For example, the state lacked any program to assist seniors who need to buy prescription drugs. The state’s Medicaid eligibility criteria were also among the nation’s most stringent; only residents earning up to roughly 20% of the state’s 2011 median household income were eligible. At the end of 2012, Governor Dennis Daugaard rejected the opportunity to expand Medicaid, which would have been heavily subsidized by the federal government as part of the Affordable Care Act. In 2011, South Dakota was one of the nation’s lowest spenders on public welfare, at $1,172 per capita.

6. Arizona
> Economic security grade: C-
> Median household income: $46,709 (21st lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,071 (6th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,682 (tied-3rd lowest)

Arizona spends extremely little on its residents overall — at just over $5,000 per person — among the lowest in the country in 2011 — and many of its policies reflect this. The state scored a D- for its job quality policies, receiving Fs for policies related to sick days and emergency leave. Average unemployment benefits amount to only 25% of a worker’s prior income, the third-lowest in the nation. One bright spot for Arizona is its higher grade for policies supporting assets and savings. The state received at least an A- in five separate policy categories, including pay day lending and mortgage fraud laws.