More People Are on Welfare Than Are Employed in 11 States – Fiction!

More People Are on Welfare Than Are Employed in 11 States – Fiction!

Federal Welfare Benefits to Households Averaged $168 a Day in 2012 – Truth!


Summary of eRumor: 

A new welfare map that has been titled “Death Spiral” claims that there are now 11 states that have more people on welfare than employed.

The eRumor also claims that the federal government pays an average of $168 a day in benefits to households that are below the poverty line.

The Truth:

It’s not true that more people are on welfare than are employed in 11 states.

The rumor appeared in chain emails in late 2014 and early 2015 under the subject line “New Welfare Map.” The map falsely identified 11 states — California, New Mexico, Illinois, MIssissippi, Kentucky, Alabama, Ohio, New York, Hawaii, South Carolina and Maine — as the ones in which more people are on welfare than have jobs. But a quick glance at Bureau of Labor Statistics data on each state’s workforce reveals that none of the states are even close to having more people on welfare than working.

Mississippi registered a 7.2% unemployment rate in February of 2015, which was among the worst of the 11 states identified in the email. Still, there were about 1.24 million people in Mississippi’s labor force, and just 89,000 of them were unemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

The chain email also claimed that households living below the poverty line receive an average of $168 in government support each day, which was true in fiscal year 2012. A report by the Senate Budget Committee said that figure includes food stamps, housing support, childcare, Medicaid and other benefits:

“Based on data from the Congressional Research Service, cumulative spending on means-tested federal welfare programs, if converted into cash, would equal $167.65 per day per household living below the poverty level. By comparison, the median household income in 2011 of $50,054 equals $137.13 per day. Additionally, spending on federal welfare benefits, if converted into cash payments, equals enough to provide $30.60 per hour, 40 hours per week, to each household living below poverty. The median household hourly wage is $25.03. After accounting for federal taxes, the median hourly wage drops to between $21.50 and $23.45, depending on a household’s deductions and filing status. State and local taxes further reduce the median household’s hourly earnings. By contrast, welfare benefits are not taxed.

It’s not true that more people collect unemployment than work in 11 states, but it is true that the federal government spent an average of $168 per day on households that are below the poverty line in fiscal year 2012.