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The States Doing The Most (and Least) To Spread The Wealth

5. Alabama
> Average pension benefits: $19,098 (22nd highest)
> Total per pupil spending: $8,870 (15th lowest)

> Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $3,931 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 27.7% (6th lowest)
> No. of months of TANF received: 30.8 (25th lowest)
> Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $197 (7th lowest)

In Alabama, the average Medicaid beneficiary receives just $3,931 each year. This is the second lowest amount in the country. In contrast, New York pays more than double that, or $9,057 per patient. Acccording to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center, the relative cost of health care in the state also happens to be the lowest in the country, lessening the need for public assistance in this area. The state also provides just $197 for the average needy family through TANF, the seventh-lowest payout in the U.S.

4. Oklahoma
> Average pension benefits: $15,215 (13th lowest)
> Total per pupil spending: $7,885 (4th lowest)
> Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $4,666 (9th lowest)
> Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 39.2% (21st highest)
> No. of months of TANF received: 27.4 (18th lowest)
> Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $189 (5th lowest)

Oklahoma spends the fourth smallest amount on education per pupil. It also pays the third least amount in employee benefits for those in the education system and the second least amount in teachers’ salaries to the number of students in the state. In addition to this, Oklahoma pays the fifth lowest amount in average monthly cash payments for TANF recipients and the ninth lowest amount in medicaid benefits for those enrolled in the program. Perhaps not surprising, the state has the second lowest cost of living in the country.

Also Read: American Pessimism About Jobs Grows

3. Idaho
> Average pension benefits: $16,088 (15th lowest)
> Total per pupil spending: $7,092 (2nd lowest)
> Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $5,685 (25th highest)
> Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 39.3% (20th highest)
> No. of months of TANF received: 8 (the lowest)
> Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $302 (22nd lowest)

The state of Idaho spends just over $7,000 per pupil in a given year. This is the second lowest rank in the country. Idaho provides below average cash assistance through TANF, and recipients only average eight months of eligibility, by far the shortest period in the U.S. As measured by the Census Bureau’s GINI coefficient, Idaho has the eighth best income equality in the country.

2. Tennessee
> Average pension benefits: $13,145 (6th lowest)
> Total per pupil spending: $7,897 (5th lowest)
> Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $4,687 (12th lowest)
> Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 28.9% (7th lowest)
> No. of months of TANF received: 38 (13th highest)
> Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $167 (3rd lowest)

Tennessee has the eleventh lowest per capita income in the country and state residents pay just $1,851 in taxes — the second lowest amount in the U.S. in state and local taxes. This means the state has one of the lowest tax burdens in the country. The state spends relatively little on education, unemployment benefits, TANF welfare benefits, and pension benefits. But Tennessee also has the lowest cost of living in the country.

1. Arkansas
> Average pension benefits: $12,009 (5th lowest)
> Total per pupil spending: $8,712 (11th lowest)
> Medicaid payments per beneficiary: $4,413 (4th lowest)
> Pct. of weekly wages covered by unemployment benefits: 41.1% (11th highest)
> No. of months of TANF received: 11.2 (2nd lowest)
> Avg. TANF cash assistance per month: $147 (the lowest)

Arkansas has the second lowest median household income in the country, at just $38,571. Despite this, the state is one of the least generous, especially when it comes to assistance for the poor. The state gives just $147 per TANF recipient, the lowest in the country. And the average poor family receiving cash assistance is only eligible for 11.2 months, the second shortest period in the U.S.

Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter, Ashley C. Allen