Perhaps unsurprisingly, small government–at all levels–is something of a signature issue in the “Live Free or Die” state. But amid the push among state GOP lawmakers to to keep the federal government out of issues ranging from health care to education, the New York Times reports, individual dependence on government aid has increased dramatically across the country. Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff write:
“Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.
Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children.
The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.”
Using federal data, the team at the Times created a cool interactive map that shows how much of each county’s total income was based on government benefits in 2009. Once you click on the county, you can see a breakdown of benefits by type. Of course, we can’t embed it directly on this site. But what we can do is provide you with some of of the map’s info (to hopefully entice you to click on this worthwhile app). For example, in New Hampshire, Coos County stands out, with residents receiving an average of $10,896 per capita in benefits, compared to $6,583 nationally. Federal money accounts for more than 30 percent of the county’s income, nearly double the national average. And the highest percentage of benefits comes from Social Security (10.80 percent), followed by Medicaid (6.59 percent) and Medicare (4.10 percent).