Mapping The United States Of Welfare

Tyler Durden's picture


When was the last time you stopped to think about how much the government spends on welfare?

Most people probably don’t think about it too much, but we bet even for those who do, they don’t know how much their government spends, much less what the money actually pays for.

That’s why we created a new map showing you how much each state spends on the public dole.


Our viz takes U.S. Census Bureau data from GoBankingRates to create a map for the entire country. Each bubble represents a state, and the size of the bubble corresponds to the size of the public expenditure on public welfare. We then color-coded each circle according to the size of the expense. Shades of blue mean that the state spends relatively little money, but pink and red indicate a higher-than-average amount. There’s a lot that you can quickly learn by breaking mapping public welfare expenses in this war.

First off, what is public welfare? This can be a controversial topic with a lot of stereotypes, so let’s get our definitions straight. If you rely on public welfare, then you turn to the government for help with paying your basic necessities, like food, housing and healthcare. The federal government runs programs that provide these types of things, and to varying degrees, so do some states. As you can clearly see, some places are more generous than others.

California is the obvious standout on the West Coast, dropping north of $100 billion on public assistance. Texas is the only other Western state with over $30 billion of expenditures, followed by Washington at under $12 billion.

There’s a significant cluster of high-spending states across the Northeast, including New York ($61.4B) and Pennsylvania ($26.8B). Florida stands out in the South at over $27B, thanks in large part to its retirement communities. There’s also a cluster of states in the Upper Midwest in light pink, where there a lot of old manufacturing cities.

We should also point out the states with much smaller expenditures, stretching across the Midwest and into the deep South. The simplest explanation for the lack of huge welfare budgets in these states has to do with geography: there just aren’t a lot of big cities in places like Iowa and Alabama compared to other states. This helps explain why California and New York spend so much on welfare. They rank first and fourth as the most populous states.

Here’s a straightforward list of the top ten states with the highest expenditures on public welfare. Note the enormous difference between California and New York and the rest of the country.

1. California - $103 Billion

2. New York - $61.4 Billion 

3. Texas - $35.4 Billion 

4. Florida - $27.2 Billion 

5. Pennsylvania - $26.7 Billion 

6. Illinois - $21 Billion 

7. Ohio - $20 Billion 

8. Massachusetts - $18.6 Billion 

9. New Jersey - $17.3 Billion 

10. Michigan - $16.3 Billion 

Here’s an interesting fact for you. The top ten states listed above spend more on public welfare ($346.9B) than all of the bottom forty states (plus the District of Columbia) combined ($262.7B). 

Regardless of how populated any particular state is, you want to pay attention to these numbers because they foreshadow future budget problems.

When you consider the fact that many states run operating deficits and have enormous debt problems, you begin to wonder if some of these numbers are sustainable for the long term.

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EmeraldWI's picture

How about the trillion in corporate welfare up for a vote? Doesn't that reverse trickle to the states?

Justin Case's picture

Socialism is great until you run out of other people's money. Collectivism a growing concern in the EU, US, UK, Canada.

38BWD22's picture


Wyoming is the only state spending less than a billion.

Not to many SJWs out there!  Get back to work!



doctor10's picture

DC....with 650000 residents, receives more than 14 other states!!!! $5500 per person

JimmyJones's picture

North Dakota runs a budget surplus every year.

Itinerant's picture

Without adjusting these amounts for population and cost of living, this is sensationalist BS.

Any semblance of comparison means absolutely nothing when presented as absolute amounts.

Omen IV's picture

OK - how about a correlation of Welfare to violent crime / drugs / DUI's


by state it would be easy to show that the welfare elimination would produce lower budgets for law enforcement as the animals leave the respective state


all should go to CA / ILL / Maryland

carbonmutant's picture

That California number should attract a lot of flies....

ZD1's picture

Commiefornia has 12 percent of the US population and over 33 percent of the welfare cases.

One in three American welfare recipients resides in Commiefornia.

Like flies on shit.

darkstar7646's picture

So you going to start shooting Californians or sit on your ass like a little bitch?

JimmyJones's picture

Could just encourage and aid their pursuit to independence 

amadeus39's picture

Your first option seems the more reasonable.


OutaTime43's picture

A real comparison would have been dollars per state resident. So, basically, this just tells us the relative population of the states.  

Oliver's Law's picture

Exactly, unless you include $$ spent per resident, this chart is meaningless.

undertow1141's picture

Well, CA has a pop of roughly 33 million. Divide 103 billion by that and you get 3121r welfare dollars/yr per person in CA.

Where as South Dakota has a pop of 865,454. 1 billion divided by that gets 1155 welfare dollars/yr per person.

Ca has roughly 5008666 welfare recipients. 103 billion divided by that means that welfare pays each of them (if it was distributed equally, it's not) $20564/yr.

A fulltime 40/hr a week job at the CA min wage (10.50/hr) minus taxes in CA would pay $15724.

DEMIZEN's picture

california has 39 m residents. many things fd up in california, no doubt, but cali paid about 13 b more federal taxes than it received in form of grants and federal aid, while south dakota managed to break even what makes SD a greater mooch. 

these are the only numbers that matter.

undertow1141's picture

CA has about a 123% debt to GSP ratio.

That is the number that matters.


DEMIZEN's picture

lol not in zirp world.  and if it did, author should plot another map. at least he wont have to normalize the numbers. 

OutaTime43's picture

Alabama is $1651 per resident.  California may still be king of welfare but i would bet the south would have much larger bubbles in an adjusted map. West and plains would probably still have low numbers. 

snr-moment's picture

even the FSA is expensive to maintain

amadeus39's picture

People who like welfare move to those states that provide it the most. Immigrants are especially attracted to welfare states. Why not? Everybody likes "free" stuff. Big Farma, big pharma, big banks, etc. You get my drift?


besnook's picture

plus purchasing power parity. rent is lot more expensive in nyc and la then it is in hey,bubba, ala.

fallout11's picture

You've got it upside down. Handing out free money (welfare and Section 8) for housing increases the median price of said housing, as more money chases the same goods/services. CA and NY have a housing bubble partially BECAUSE of the massive handouts there, now in their fifth decade.  Normal free market forces would normally encourage people to leave these "expensive" states and move somewhere affordable, but they are incentivized to stay instead via free money handouts, a cumulative problem.

dasein211's picture

Does this count the 8 trillion in corporate bailouts?

The Greek horse's picture

I thought Cali was suppose to secede?? Good riddance 

bluez's picture

What is it with these raw numbers? Doesn't the number of people who live, like, actually in the state make a difference? You want to compare New York State to Kentucky?

decon's picture

I repeatedly have the same beef with these piece of shit articles.  Unless it's presented as per capita (rate) it's meaningless.

DEMIZEN's picture

what a retarded joke indeed. it should be at least adjusted for population and federal taxes paid.  i guess math is too hoard for the flyover militia lol.

bidaskspread's picture

Where is Israel on this map, don't we give them welfare?

Lost in translation's picture

CA pays its beloved illegal aliens a lot.

Killing whites with no consequence is just a bonus.

starman's picture

Lost Angelies....75% latino!  

. . . _ _ _ . . .'s picture

"...turn to the government for help with paying your basic necessities, like food, housing and healthcare."
The conflation in this article is best demonstrated here.

SJEqualizer's picture

Per capita or shove it up your ass.  Fucking low information retards.

just the tip's picture

per capita or per recipient?

KekistanisUnite's picture

New York and California should be first TO GO. The reason for the considerable gap between the two I think is due to the population deficit. New York is now the 4th most populous state having fallen behind Florida back in 2015. Currently 19.7m versus California's massive 39.2 million. Nearly 20 million more people in an equally blue state means more welfare money spent naturally.

panhead20's picture

Note the enormous POPULATION difference between California and New York and the rest of the country

myopinion's picture

EXACTLY.  The data is meaningless.

fallout11's picture

When you BRIBE/PAY people to live there with money from the public treasury, that is the expected result.
You get more of what you incentivize.

besnook's picture

i am glad tyhis guy passed 3rd grade math so he could get a job. so the most populous states spend the most on welfare. he is fn brilliant and a trump supporter, too, i bet.

Intelligence_Insulter's picture

Welfare is a real problem where im at it not only subsudizes the niggers and the non english speaking diversity enrichment leeches we got the old "war vets" on full disability walking around the crack dens with fucken ID tags and veteran hats like they are bullet proof because they are essentially whales who blow their whole disability checks on crack and are basically VIPS to the crack dealers.


Socialism is a disease.  

isky172's picture

Hmmm...OH and IL placement...#FAIL

Golden Showers's picture

Ha ha! Your mama's on welfare!

I got some Ice cream and you aint got none!

teslacoil's picture

If the crazy fat kid is gonna nail us, he should start with CA, then NY.

And to think we are forced, at gun point, to pay into this fucking corrupt system.

astroloungers's picture

The raw numbers are so skewed that the information is useless. A % of the top and bottom are statiscal outliers and need to be removed for a more accurate view. Think the fat middle of the bell curve, this does not reflect that.

1 Alabama's picture

Does anyone see any clues that the world could end tomorrow?

Al Armed's picture

City size is a matter of geography? Haha. No.

Al Armed's picture

City size is a matter of geography? Haha. No.

Arrest Hillary's picture

FOIA .... every welfare recipient should be tattoed on his forehead .... with the GWT (gross welfare take) ?