A Third of Welfare Recipients in California?

I had trouble believing this chart (ht Maggies Farm) until I looked at the HHS data here and saw it was dead on.  On the chart below, the width of the band at the left is percentage of the US population, and to the right is percentage of the US welfare roles.


The second biggest band, in green, I believe is New York.  Its incredible that California's financial problems can be in the news for months and I have never seen a whiff of this in the media.


  1. james:

    Not surprising. When you dole out tons of aid, and you've got vast areas with great weather, what do you expect?

    btw, I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone skewered this topic well in their "zombie" episode (where the zombies are just people begging for change). Cartman solves the problem by rigging a bus with speakers that play a version of "California (knows how to party)", with the lyrics changed to things like "Santa Monica...super cool to the homeless", and thus herding all of the homeless in South Park out west...

  2. Ironman:

    Here's a short history. The quote below picks up after the first five years after welfare reform was signed in 1996, during which California mostly followed the trend in welfare rolls for the U.S.:

    As a result, though it has only about 12% of the country’s population, California’s share of the total U.S. welfare recipients has risen from 22% in 2002 to 32% today. The state has a whopping 869,000 more people on the dole than it would if it mirrored the rest of the country.

    There is no defensible reason why California’s caseload should be so obviously and seriously out of whack.

    Is it because of immigration, legal or otherwise? No way. The percentage of the population on welfare in Texas and Florida is less than half of what it is in the rest of the country excluding California.

    Could it be the state’s stratospheric cost of living? Nope. While above the national average, the percentage of the population on the dole in New York State, which of course includes the country’s most expensive city, is only 1.3%.

    Is it the economy? Nice try; no sale. As shown, welfare rolls have continued to fall elsewhere. Additionally, in the year ended September 30, 2008, the number of TANF recipients in the economic basket case known as Michigan dropped by 16%, or over 30,000.

    Sadly, it is much more likely that the state’s political establishment, Democrat and Republican, as well as its social services bureaucracy, have both resisted the fundamental national reforms passed 12 years ago at nearly every possible turn. Misplaced compassion here, and surely in other areas, has ultimately led to the state’s budgetary brick wall.

  3. hanmeng:

    It's incredible that California’s financial problems can be in the news for months and I have never seen a whiff of this in the media.

    Particularly incredible given that vast right-wing conspiracy that controls the media.

  4. Robert G Stever:

    What conspiracy? Give me sources(non wiki) while you're at it.