The States Where America Spends The Most (And The Least) Per Person

Douglas A. McIntyre

The US Census came out with its annual report, the “Consolidated Federal Funds Report for Fiscal Year 2009:  State and Country Areas” on how much the federal government spends on the 307,006,550 citizens who lived in America at the end of 2009. The state that received the most money per person was Alaska– $20,351. The state which received the least per person was Nevada– only $7.148.

The total federal domestic spending in the government’s last fiscal year was $3.2 trillion. That was up 16% from the previous year, almost entirely because of the government’s stimulus package, set up to ameliorate the effects of the recession.  This was the greatest increase since 1983 which also occurred at the end of a deep and long recession.

Unfortunately for budget hawks, most of what the federal government spends now is nearly impossible to cut. That is certainly true if most members of Congress and the President want to get re-elected. Twenty-two percent of 2009 expenditures, $715.6 billion, went to Social Security.  Health and Human Services, which handles payments for Medicare and Medicaid, spent 28% of budget dollars–$907 billion.

The Defense Department’s expenditures were almost 17% of the budget, or $535 billion. That does not include the costs for Veterans Affairs–nearly 3% of the budget or $91 billion. It turns out that the most important swing factor among states for federal expenditure per person is defense spending. The number is unusually high in Alaska and low in states like Oregon and Minnesota.

The money spent by the federal government on defense, social services, and entitlement programs is so high that only 30% of the government’s expenditures are left for the entire balance of the nation’s financial obligations.

Five states did extraordinarily well in terms of the amount of money that they received per person. Anther five did very poorly. The 24/7 Wall St. analysis of these states not only looks at what each one received but why that number was better or worse than the national average — $10,395 per person.

The five winners:

1. Alaska

Amt. per Capita: $20,351.13
Population: 698,473
Percent of U.S. Population: 0.23%
Percent of U.S. Funds Per Person: 0.45%

Alaska got $20,351 per person. The most significant reason is that the northernmost state receives substantial money from the federal government for defense. That is divided into only 698,473 people. Alaska’s payment per person for defense dwarfs that of any other state.