Where Americans most depend on government beneﬁts
The share of Americans’ income that
Percentage of individual income Three decades ago
comes from government beneﬁt that comes from government payments Federal payments were less than
programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid 10 20 30 40%
10 percent of total individual
and Social Security, more than doubled income in most places. Some poor
counties and those with bad
over the past four decades, rising from
8 percent in 1969 to 18 percent in 2009.
More dependent economies exceeded 20 percent.
18% Chisago County Since 2000,
earned income here has fallen 13
percent; income from government
Seattle programs has risen 69 percent.
Portland MONT. N.D.
IDAHO MICH. Alcona
Boise Teton Minneapolis County
County WIS. Green Bay Rochester N.Y. MASS. Boston
WYO. Milwaukee Detroit CONN.
IOWA Chicago New York
Salt Lake City NEB.
Des Moines Amtrak Corridor
San Francisco Pitkin ILL. MD. DEL. The high-income
UTAH County Denver IND. D.C. metropolitan
Springﬁeld W.VA. areas of the
COLO. Kansas City
Owsley VA. Richmond Northeast remain
Pueblo St. Louis substantially less
Las Vegas MO. KY. dependent than
much of the
Los Angeles Tulsa
ARIZ. Albuquerque TENN.
OKLA. Memphis Anti-Obama
Little Rock S.C.
San Diego N.M. Many counties with heavy
Phoenix Atlanta reliance on government
ARK. GA. payments strongly
MISS. ALA. rejected Barack Obama in
Dallas Jackson 2008. In Owsley County,
Ky., whose residents get
TEX. more income support per
LA. person than any other
Mobile place, Obama took just 23
ALASKA San Antonio Houston New Orleans percent of the vote.
Tampa FLA. States won by
HAWAII John McCain in 2008
Most changed Least dependent Big cities Aging population Red and blue
The collapse of manufacturing The counties that rely Most cities have large populations of poor people The advance of baby boomers into retirement is darkening the Among the 100 counties
and growth of older popula- least on entitlement who depend on government beneﬁts. But cities map just about everywhere. The trend is most apparent in with the highest
tions have made the upper payments include Teton, also attract the wealthy. Memphis, which has the places such as northern Michigan, where a weak economy dependence, two-thirds
Midwest and the South among Wyo., and Pitkin, Colo., highest poverty rate among large U.S. cities, still means relatively few people are moving in or out. The over-65 voted for John McCain in
the fastest-growing areas in both home to growing draws a relatively small share of income from the population of Alcona County, Mich., has tripled since 1970, 2008. Many are poor and
reliance on entitlements. enclaves of the rich. government, particularly by comparison with while the under-35 population has declined, and entitlements rural.
neighboring counties. have jumped from 17 percent to 44 percent of income.
Six major spending areas Maps show the top 20 percent of counties in share of income from speciﬁc entitlement programs.
Social Security A barometer Medicare A pattern in Plains Medicaid A hybrid of aging and Welfare Income support in the Unemployment insurance Veterans beneﬁts Where
of aging. states, the South and retirement low-income areas. Deep South, Appalachia and the Hard times in the upper former service members live.
enclaves. Southwest. Midwest and the far West.
Sources: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections FORD FESSENDEN AND ROBERT GEBELOFF/THE NEW YORK TIMES