Economy

States With the Most Government Benefits

5. Idaho
> Economic security grade: C-
> Median household income: $43,341 (11th lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,510 (12th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,067 (15th lowest)

Idaho received low grades for the quality of its education and training initiatives. Few states provided less funding to train unemployed workers under the Workforce Investment Act. According to figures from the National Institute For Early Education Research, cited by WOW, Idaho had no state preschool program in 2008-2009. Currently, Idaho is one of 10 states that do not offer public preschool.Additionally, Idaho scored poorly for preschool attendance. Some other states had more than one-third of children between ages three and four enrolled in their programs. In 2011, Idaho spent just $1,704 per capita on education, among the lowest amounts in the nation.

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4. Tennessee
> Economic security grade: D+
> Median household income: $41,693 (6th lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $4,816 (3rd lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,761 (9th lowest)

Tennessee has among the worst income-related policies in the country, according to WOW. The state has no minimum wage beyond the federal rate of $7.25 per hour, nor does it have any policies in place to increase minimum wage based on inflation. The state also earned poor marks for its unemployment insurance policies. Only 43% of the state’s uninsured received unemployment benefits in 2011, compared to an average of 54% nationwide. For those receiving benefits, average payments amount to an average of less than 30% of weekly wages, compared to states like Rhode Island, which pays more than 40%.

3. Mississippi
> Economic security grade: D+
> Median household income: $36,919 (the lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $6,768 (23rd highest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $2,257 (19th lowest)

Mississippi received an F for policies that support economic security by boosting income. The state itself has no minimum wage law or update provision to account for inflation. It also lacks any state earned income tax credit. Mississippi also receives among the worst marks for its policies affecting job quality, an element of economic security in which most states fair poorly. Like most states, Mississippi scores poorly for its policies covering paid sick days, as well as family and medical emergency leave. Worse, unemployment insurance covers just 29.1% of an unemployed worker’s former wages. This was among the worst figures in the nation, and especially low considering that many Mississippians earn very little.

2. Alabama
> Economic security grade: D+
> Median household income: $41,415 (5th lowest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,843 (18th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,801 (10th lowest)

Alabama received a B for its policies related to assets and savings, with especially good marks for mortgage fraud protection, SCHIP eligibility, and its lenient limits on TANF and Medicaid. However, the state otherwise received a C grade or worse in most of the other categories measured. Policies for Medicaid eligibility ranked among the worst in the country, and the state has no program to assist elders obtaining their medicine. Unemployment insurance benefits amount to just 26.7% of weekly wages, one of the lowest in the country, and only 45% of the state’s unemployed received insurance at all

1. Utah
> Economic security grade: D+
> Median household income: $55,869 (14th highest)
> Gov’t spending per capita, 2011: $5,922 (20th lowest)
> Tax collections per capita, FY 2011: $1,958 (13th lowest)

No state offers its residents fewer benefits than Utah. The state is among the nation’s worst at providing public support programs. A worker going on unemployment insurance in May 2012 was eligible for 60 weeks of benefits, much less than most other states. Worse, just 40% of unemployed workers were even on this program, among the lowest in the nation. Utah was also rated among the nation’s worst states at providing policies that encouraged residents to build their savings and assets. The state is among the worst at providing consumer protections against payday lending. Utah’s limits for TANF, SNAP and Medicaid eligibility were all considered to be stringent by WOW.

Also Read: States with the Most Government Benefits

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