In Interactive Look at the Geography of Government Benefits

As the debate over the size and scope of federal and state governments heats up entering the 2012 election season, <em>The New York Times</em> presents a comprehensive look at how such services are currently dispersed across the country.
February 16, 2012, 8am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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In an interactive graphic and in an accompanying multimedia article, the Times examines historical and geographic trends for those benefiting from the safety net. Overall, "The share of Americans' income that comes from government benefit programs, like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, more than doubled over the last four decades, rising from 8 percent in 1969 to 18 percent in 2009."

A fascinating interactive graphic presents historical data for several decades in the amounts of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Income Support, Veterans, and Unemployment benefits at a county-by-county level.

Authors Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff reach the surprising conclusion that, "The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement."

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Published on Saturday, February 11, 2012 in The New York Times
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