Study: Government Assistance at Record High

Tuesday, 26 Apr 2011 08:19 AM

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Americans soaked up more government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in history, a USA TODAY analysis shows.

government, assistanceA whopping 18.3% of the nation’s total personal income came from the government by way of Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010.

Meanwhile, earned wages accounted for the lowest slice of income, 51.0%, since the government began keeping records in 1929.

In other findings from the USA TODAY study:

∙ From1980 to 2000, government aid was basicallysteady at 12.5%. The increase since then is owing to the expansion of health care and federal programs generally, the aging population and lingering economic problems.

∙ Americans got an average of $7,427 in benefits each in 2010 -- with the federal government paying about 90% of the benefits.

∙ Accounting for 80% of safety-net spending in 2010: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance.

“What’s frightening is the Baby Boomers haven’t really started to retire,” revealed University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes of the 77 million people born from 1946 through 1964 whose oldest wave turns 65 this year. “That’s when the cost of Medicare will start to explode.”


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