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					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.
                                                            Less Dependent
                                                                           U.S. average:
                                                                                        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
                   ORE.                                                                                                                                                                                                             N.H.
                                        Boise                      Teton                                                Minneapolis                                                 County
                                                                   County                                                                        WIS.          Green Bay                              Rochester N.Y.            MASS. Boston
                                                                           WYO.                                                                                 Milwaukee       Detroit                                        CONN.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Cleveland                 PA.
                                                                                                                                   IOWA                         Chicago                                                         New York
                                                          Salt Lake City                               NEB.
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Philadelphia N.J.
                                                                                                                                Des Moines                                                                                Amtrak Corridor
                             NEV.                                                                                                                                                    OHIO
      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
                                                                                                              KAN.                                                             County
                                    Las Vegas                                                                                          MO.                                    KY.                                         dependent than
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          much of the
                                                                                                                                         Springfield                                                                       country.
                                                                                                                                                                        Nashville                          N.C.
                 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