Around 110 million Americans are now on government welfare benefits
This equates to more than one third of the country relying on handouts
At least 51 million are using food stamps and 83 million are on Medicaid
Analysts are calling for the minimum wage to be increased to $10.10 an hour
By Jenny Awford for MailOnline
Published: 11:24 EST, 29 August 2014 | Updated: 14:54 EST, 29 August 2014
Around 110 million Americans are now receiving government assistance, one third of the country
A third of Americans are now on welfare benefits, prompting calls to raise the minimum wage and encourage more people to stay in work.
New census data has revealed that around 110 million Americans are receiving government assistance of some kind.
The number includes people receiving ‘means-tested’ federal benefits and subsidies based on income.
Those receiving food stamps, subsidised housing and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are also included in the total.
At the end of 2012 around 83 million were collecting Medicaid and 51.5 million were on food stamps, with some benefitting from multiple programs.
Analysts have raised concerns that the programs are encouraging people to stay at home rather than work.
They pointed out that when recipients combine several government assistance programs, in many cases they pay better than going to work.
Michael Tanner, from Cato Institute think tank said that in the eight most generous states, the benefits are comparable to a $20 minimum wage.
This would exceed the $7.25 minimum wage in most states.
‘So in many cases people could actually do better on welfare than they could in an entry level job,’ said Mr Tanner.
Supporters say the safety net is necessary to keep Americans from living in dire conditions.
And many argue that a solution would be to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
‘I think a lot of people would do the jobs when they pay a living wage,’ said Melissa Boteach, from the Center for American Progress.
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‘In addition, there’s growing jobs in health care and information technology and energy. There’s a lot of places where, if able to make investments, we can really grow our economy in those sectors.’
Tanner said there must be a serious effort to put people back to work because the continued growth of government assistance programs is unsustainable.
President Obama urged Congress to reinstate jobless benefits for more than a million Americans this year
‘You can’t in the long run have a society in which you have to rely on a smaller and smaller group of wealth producers who have to support more and more people who are not contributing to that wealth,’ he said.
The number of people on such benefits is up slightly from 2011.
The government still runs a half-trillion dollar deficit, according to the most recent estimates, and the national debt is nearing $18 trillion.
Heritage Foundation analyst Rachel Sheffield has criticised President Obama’s plan to vastly increase spending on welfare.
She also accused the Obama administration of giving Americans less incentive to find work and eventually free themselves from public assistance.
‘Unfortunately, the federal government tends to measure welfare success by the number of people receiving benefits,’ she said.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2737858/In-cases-Americans-better-benefits-entry-level-job-Data-shows-THIRD-U-S-welfare-handouts.html#ixzz3BqAatcOc
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