Census Bureau: Means-Tested Gov't Benefit Recipients Outnumber Full-Time Year-Round Workers

October 24, 2013 - 11:32 PM
Tom Vilsack and Barack Obama

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and President Barack Obama get beer on Aug. 13, 2012 at the Iowa State Fair. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(CNSNews.com) - Americans who were recipients of means-tested government benefits in 2011 outnumbered year-round full-time workers, according to data released this month by the Census Bureau.

They also out-numbered the total population of the Philippines.

There were 108,592,000 people in the United States in the fourth quarter of 2011 who were recipients of one or more means-tested government benefit programs, the Census Bureau said in data released this week. Meanwhile, according to the Census Bureau, there were 101,716,000 people who worked full-time year round in 2011. That included both private-sector and government workers.

That means there were about 1.07 people getting some form of means-tested government benefit for every 1 person working full-time year round.

The Census Bureau counted as recipients of means-tested government programs “anyone residing in a household in which one or more people received benefits from the program.” Many of these people lived in households receiving more than one form of means-tested benefit at the same time.

Among the 108,592,000 people who fit the Census Bureau’s description of a means-tested benefit recipient in the fourth quarter of 2011 were 82,457,000 people in households receiving Medicaid, 49,073,000 beneficiaries of food stamps, 20,223,000 on Supplemental Security Income, 23,228,000 in the Women, Infants and Children program, 13,433,000 in public or subsidized rental housing, and 5,854,000 in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Also among the 108,592,000 means-tested benefit recipients counted by the Census Bureau were people getting free or reduced-price lunch or breakfast, state-administered supplemental security income and means-tested veterans pensions.

The 108,592,000 people who were recipients of means-tested government programs in the fourth quarter of 2011 does not include people who received benefits from non-means-tested government programs but not from means-tested ones. That would include, for example, people who received Social Security, Medicare, unemployment, or non-means-tested veterans compensation, but did not receive benefits from a means-tested program such as food stamps or public housing.

In the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Census Bureau, there were 49,901,000 people who received Social Security benefits, 46,440,000 who received Medicare benefits, 5,098,000 on unemployment, and 3,178,000 who received non-means-tested veterans compensation.

When the people who received non-means-tested government benefits from programs such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment and non-means-tested veterans compensation are added to those who received means-tested government programs such as food stamps, Supplemental Security Income and public housing, the total number of people receiving government benefits from one or more programs in the United States in 2011 climbs to 151,014,000, according to the Census Bureau.

The 108,592,000 people who were beneficiaries of means-tested government programs in the United States in 2011 not only outnumbered full-time year-round workers, they also outnumbered the total population of the Philippines, which is 105,720,644, according to the CIA World Factbook. They are also approaching the number of people living in Mexico, which is 116,220,947, according to the CIA.