Nearly Half U.S. Households Receive Government Benefits
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Nearly Half of U.S. Households Receive Government Benefits
from NCPA

The pool of Americans relying on government benefits rose to record highs last year as an increasing share of families tapped aid in a weak economy, says the Wall Street Journal. Expanding government programs combined with the worst downturn since the Great Depression have led to an explosion in the share of Americans relying on outside help.

• Some 48.6 percent of the population lived in a household receiving some type of government benefit in the second quarter of 2010, according to Census data.

• To combat prolonged economic weakness, Congress extended unemployment benefits to a record 99 weeks (up from the normal 26-weeks offered in most states).

The food stamp program was tweaked so it was more generous.

• Americans flocked to Social Security disability, a last bastion of support for some of the long-term unemployed.

• In the second quarter, 34.4 percent lived in a household benefiting from food stamps, subsidized housing or Medicaid, among others.

The biggest increases came from an uptick in those turning to food stamps and Medicaid. Nearly 15 percent of Americans lived in a household receiving food stamps in mid-2010; almost 26 percent had access to Medicaid.

For text from the Wall Street Journal: