Another Benefits Map! This Time by County Nationwide

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Government benefits maps – can't get enough of 'em.  This week, perhaps as a Valentine's Day gift to those of us who love sociological maps, the New York Times is showing the share of Americans' income that comes from government benefits like Medicare, Social Security, and veterans' benefits – the sum of which has more than doubled since 1969.  And it's extra fun because it shows the breakdown by county nationwide, so you can see not just how different parts of Texas compare to one another, but also how Texas compares to other states and counties.  But wait, there's more – if you hover over a county, you can see the trend over time and compared to the national average.

One of the first things you'll notice is that despite the efforts of our fearless governor to keep federal money out of Texas, Texans get plenty of it.  In general, some of the reddest states have some of the highest rates of reliance on government benefits, especially across the South.  And in Texas, same goes for some of the reddest counties (I'm looking at you, San Augustine County).  

A few highlights:

  • Only sixteen states have counties where more than 40% of the income is from government benefits.  Texas has five of these counties.
  • The highest concentrations of Medicare and Medicaid in Texas are not necessarily where you would expect.  They're in a lot of rural areas, and not just the Valley, but East and North Texas too.
  •  Texas' major cities actually have generally lower rates of government benefit use than the national average.  
  •  Maine gets way more government assistance than I would have expected.  Just saying.

I, for one, will spend the evening pondering how it is that some people get elected, considering the districts they represent.  

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About Author

Emily Cadik

Emily is a Texas ex-pat and proud Longhorn living in Washington, DC, where she remains connected to the Lone Star State through her work on BOR and her enthusiasm for breakfast tacos. She works on affordable housing policy, and writes about health care, poverty and other social justice issues.

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