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Welfare Recipients by State 2021

Welfare is a type of government support for the citizens of that society to meet their basic human needs such as food and shelter. Welfare programs typically provide either a free or subsidized supply of certain goods and services such as healthcare and education.

The United States has six major welfare programs: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, Earned Income Tax Credit, Housing Assistance, and Medicaid. These six welfare programs are not to be confused with the four entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation.

Welfare recipients in the United States must prove their income falls below a certain target based on the federal poverty level in order to qualify. In April 2018, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to review employment requirements for TANF, Medicaid, SNAP, and housing assistance. Childless SNAP recipients who do not have disabilities, for example, must find a job within three months or lose their benefits.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) refers to food stamps. The number of SNAP recipients has decreased overall in most states. The number of recipients grew during 2007-2011 due to the recession and has seen a steady decline since, most likely because of an improving economy and the imposed three-month limit.

The ten states that have the highest number of SNAP recipients are:

  1. California - 3,789,000
  2. Texas - 3,406,000
  3. Florida - 2,847,000
  4. New York - 2,661,000
  5. Illinois - 1,770,000
  6. Pennsylvania - 1,757,000
  7. Georgia - 1,424,000
  8. Ohio - 1,383,000
  9. North Carolina - 1,298,000
  10. Michigan - 1,180,000

The states with the highest percentage of SNAP recipients are New Mexico (21%), Louisiana (17%), West Virginia (17%), Alabama (15%), and Mississippi (15%). New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Rhode Island all have 14%. In Wyoming and Utah, only 5% of residents are SNAP recipients, the lowest in the U.S.

Here are the 10 states with the most welfare recipients:

  1. New Mexico (21,368 per 100k)
  2. West Virginia (17,388 per 100k)
  3. Louisiana (17,388 per 100k)
  4. Mississippi (14,849 per 100k)
  5. Alabama (14,568 per 100k)
  6. Oklahoma (14,525 per 100k)
  7. Illinois (14,153 per 100k)
  8. Rhode Island (13,904 per 100k)
  9. Pennsylvania (13,623 per 100k)
  10. Oregon (13,617 per 100k)

Welfare Recipients by State 2021

* Official program name is Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Data for 2019 is preliminary and can be subject to change.
State Food Stamps Recipients (2019) Recipients Per 100K (2019) Food Stamps Recipients (2018) Recipients Per 100K (2018)
New Mexico449,79221,368454,24421,579
West Virginia307,40417,388311,86317,641
Louisiana804,56117,388838,61118,124
Mississippi440,49614,849477,16616,086
Alabama718,79214,568748,75515,175
Oklahoma579,61814,525581,70114,577
Illinois1,778,95314,1531,783,38914,188
Rhode Island147,59713,904157,94814,880
Pennsylvania1,744,31913,6231,791,56413,992
Oregon584,07713,617612,24914,273
New York2,576,09913,3482,727,46214,132
Nevada419,83213,178434,89813,651
Tennessee882,62212,710938,98613,522
Florida2,779,31212,6652,996,30213,654
Georgia1,370,77912,6571,485,06013,712
Delaware121,98712,318136,25213,758
Ohio1,380,49011,7841,400,70411,957
Arkansas350,44711,551363,18611,971
Maine156,45011,550159,32011,762
Michigan1,143,90011,4481,217,49912,184
Texas3,348,30011,2623,610,34012,144
Kentucky504,58411,261577,56512,890
South Carolina585,25211,089623,28311,809
Massachusetts764,52511,060768,37411,116
Hawaii155,06111,025161,35411,473
Missouri678,38810,997713,15111,560
Vermont67,29610,79871,17611,420
Arizona795,31310,576834,51811,097
Wisconsin606,03610,355634,56210,843
Washington802,30510,290845,78910,848
Connecticut364,65910,264376,44710,596
California4,040,64610,2003,830,6529,670
Maryland612,75110,102637,96610,518
Alaska73,13010,09671,7759,909
Montana105,6679,739109,42010,085
Iowa306,9409,689332,59510,499
South Dakota78,8548,79582,5669,209
Indiana576,1128,465599,6138,811
Nebraska157,9788,093163,9998,402
Virginia695,0048,078715,5598,317
New Jersey682,7347,693731,9838,248
Idaho142,1997,645148,7797,998
Colorado439,3907,455461,6597,833
Minnesota398,7066,987422,5737,405
Kansas198,4266,802211,0057,233
North Dakota48,2436,26550,5036,559
New Hampshire73,4165,35079,7275,810
Utah165,3744,995178,8125,401
Wyoming25,5644,39927,4484,724
North Carolina

Welfare Recipients by State 2021