Americans depended more on government assistance in 2010 than at any other time in the nation’s history, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data finds. The trend shows few signs of easing, even though the economic recovery is nearly 2 years old.
A record 18.3% of the nation’s total personal income was a payment from the government for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs in 2010. Wages accounted for the lowest share of income — 51.0% — since the government began keeping track in 1929.
IN 2010 every American got an average of $7,427 in benefits from the government, up from $4,763 in 2000 and $3,686 in 1990. The decrease in wages and the increase in benefits are due largely to the expansion of health care and federal programs designed to “spread the wealth.“