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Welfare Recipients By State

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Welfare in America

Welfare programs in the United States trace their roots back to the Great Depression era and have since played a crucial role in mitigating factors contributing to poverty. Primarily intended to support low-income families and individuals, these government initiatives provide resources for basic necessities like food and shelter. Among the many welfare programs available, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is one of the most widely utilized, offering support to millions of Americans across all 50 states. 

Key findings from the data include:

  • The largest number of SNAP recipients are in California, with 5,265,551 beneficiaries, followed by Texas and Florida with 3,241,755 and 2,969,247 recipients respectively.
  • At the other end of the scale, states such as North Dakota and Wyoming report the fewest SNAP recipients, with 45,212 and 29,604 beneficiaries respectively. These states have significantly smaller populations and typically report lower poverty rates – factors which could potentially explain the fewer SNAP beneficiaries.
  • Interestingly, while New York, a state with high population density and known for its prosperous economy, does have a significant number of SNAP recipients (2,892,567), it lags behind both California and Texas, suggesting that factors beyond population size and economic prosperity may influence SNAP distribution.
  • A broad pattern suggests that states with larger cities and higher costs of living, such as California and New York, tend to have higher numbers of SNAP recipients. Conversely, more rural states with smaller populations, such as Wyoming and North Dakota, have fewer SNAP recipients.
  • Despite an overall declining trend in SNAP recipients across the US, certain states - like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina - still register over a million recipients each, reaffirming the continuing relevance and vital importance of programs like SNAP in providing welfare support.

State with Most Welfare Recipients

California has the most welfare recipients, leading the league with an astounding 5,265,551 recipients as of 2023. This can be attributed to California's large population and escalated cost of living which exerts more financial pressure on low-income families.

Adjacent to California, albeit with significantly fewer recipients is Texas, housing 3,241,755 beneficiaries. Florida secures the third spot on the list with 2,969,247 SNAP recipients, while New York, another state with a significant population and high living cost, trails closely behind with 2,892,567 recipients.

States like Illinois, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, and Georgia also accommodate over a million SNAP recipients each, indicating regions with substantive welfare needs.

State with Most Welfare Recipients:

  1. California - 5,265,551
  2. Texas - 3,241,755
  3. Florida - 2,969,247
  4. New York - 2,892,567
  5. Illinois - 2,006,611
  6. Pennsylvania - 1,941,434
  7. North Carolina - 1,590,833
  8. Michigan - 1,435,014
  9. Ohio - 1,404,114
  10. Georgia - 1,398,323

By State

Full Data Set

Frequently Asked Questions

Methodology