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Welfare Statistics

Millions of Americans are finding it difficult to make ends meet in the current economic environment. Despite improvements in employment numbers and a rebound in the housing market, many people still require assistance to maintain financial stability. 

As the number of Americans who struggle financially continues to increase, many households are relying more on welfare programs. These initiatives, paid for with federal funding, provide financial assistance to low-income people and families. 

This article will provide the most important welfare statistics you need to know in 2022.

01

General welfare
statistics

02

Poverty
statistics

03

Welfare statistics
by gender

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Welfare statistics
by ethnicity

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Welfare statistics
by age 

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Welfare statistics
by states

01

General welfare statistics

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Mandatory expenditures, such as Social Security, Medicare, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, account for over 60% of total federal outlays.

2020 saw a significant increase in federal health spending (36%) compared to 2019's growth of 5.9%. This expansion was expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic.

12% of Americans -- or 38 million people -- benefited from the SNAP program in 2019. In 2020, this number increased to 41 million people.

In 2020, the median household income was $67,521, which was down 2.9% from the 2019 median of $69,560.

In 2021, 65 million Americans received Social Security benefits each month, equaling over $1 trillion in benefits. This is an increase of nearly 400,000 individuals since 2020 and an increase of nearly ten million recipients in the last ten years.

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While general welfare spending is overshadowed by health care spending ($1.6 trillion), welfare does have a bigger price tag than national defense ($1.1 trillion) in estimates costs in the 2022 federal budget.

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The federal government spent around $111 billion in SNAP and other food-related assistance programs in 2021.

The majority (94%) of SNAP spending, or almost $105 billion, went to funds that helped households purchase groceries.

 

02

Poverty statistics 

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In 2020, there were 37.2 million people living in poverty, approximately 3.3 million more than in 2019. 

The official poverty rate, which does not consider essential supports and transfers, increased to 11.4 % in 2020.

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The Supplemental Poverty Measure, or SPM, which considers family expenses and government assistance programs, found that supplemental poverty dropped from 11.8% in 2019 to 9,1% in 2020. For the first time since its implementation in 2009, the SPM-based poverty rate is lower than the official poverty rate.

 

Poverty noticeably decreased when additional cash, including enhanced unemployment assistance and stimulus checks, were provided.

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In homes where the combined income was less than $198,000 or the individual income was less than $99,000, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided stimulus payments up to $1,200 per adult and $500 to each child under the age of 17.

Poverty is expected to decrease to 7.7% nationwide and fall dramatically among children, Black, non-Hispanic, and Hispanic people.

Poverty will decrease by 63.4% for White non-Hispanic people and 53.8% for non-Hispanic people. Poverty among children is projected to decline by 81.4%.

11.7 million individuals were pulled out of poverty by the first two rounds of stimulus payments, and 5.5 million more were helped out of poverty by the enhanced unemployment benefits.

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Poverty among Black non-Hispanic people is anticipated to decrease by 74.3%, and among Hispanic people is projected to decline by 67.8%.

In 2019, the share of Blacks in poverty was 1.8 times greater than their share among the general population. Blacks represented 13.2% of the total population in the United States, but 23.8% of the poverty population.

The share of Hispanics in poverty was 1.5 times more than their share in the general population. Hispanics comprised 18.7% of the total population, but 28.1% of the population was in poverty.

The number of homeless people in the U.S. is estimated at 580,466.

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Non-Hispanic Whites comprised 59.9% of the total population, but only 41.6% of the population was in poverty. Asians comprised 6.1% of the population and 4.3% of the population in poverty.

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Welfare statistics by gender

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The percentage of women using food stamps is significantly higher than that of men. 23% of women and only 12% of men in the U.S. use food stamps.

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The gap is evident among minorities, with 39% of Black American women saying they received food stamps, compared to 21% of Black men.

Between ages 25 and 34 (during prime childbearing years), women are 69% more likely to live in poverty than men of the same age.

In 2020, men working full-time, year-round, had a 5.6% increase in median wage, to $61,417.

In 2020, women saw a 6.5% increase in median wage, to $50,982.

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Welfare statistics by ethnicity

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Families who disproportionately experience poverty saw the most significant decline in poverty between 2019 and 2020.

SPM poverty rates fell from 18.9% to 14.6% for Black people and from 18.8% to 14% for Hispanic people.

For Asian people, the SPM poverty rates decreased from  11.3% to 8.8%, whereas for White people, these percentages dropped from 10.5% to 8.1%.

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The official poverty rate among non-Hispanic Whites was 8.2% in 2020, while Hispanics had a poverty rate of 17%.

Among the major racial groups examined, Blacks had the highest poverty rate (19.5%) but did not experience a significant change from 2019.

The poverty rate for Asians (8.1%) in 2020 was not statistically different from 2019.  

In 2019, the median household income for Black households was $45,438 compared to $56,113 for Hispanic households, $76,057 for non-Hispanic White households, and $98,174 for Asian households.

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Welfare statistics by age

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The majority of Americans receiving social services are children. They make up 41% of all welfare users.

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50% of welfare recipients are Americans between 18 and 64.

Only 12% of Americans on aid are seniors (65 and older).

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Welfare statistics by states

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Public welfare spending by state and local governments was $744 billion in 2019. That accounts for 22% of direct general spending.

Statistics show that there is a direct correlation between the cost of living and welfare expenditures. California ($115 billion) and New York ($66.2 billion) are the states with the most welfare spending.

Texas and Pennsylvania spend significantly less, with $41.1 billion and $31.3 billion, respectively.

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Wyoming spends $858 million on welfare, making it the only state to spend less than $1 billion on welfare.

States spending under $2 billion on welfare are South Dakota ($1.1 billion), North Dakota ($1.4 billion), and Vermont ($1.8 billion).

 

Alaska, Massachusetts, and New York have the highest welfare expenditure per capita.

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