D.C. Ranks in Top 10 for Households Receiving Public Assistance in 2012

By Ali Meyer | September 3, 2014 | 1:16 PM EDT

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) -- In 2012, the District of Columbia, the home of the federal government, ranked in the top 10 in the United States for having the highest percentage of households receiving public assistance, according to data from the Census Bureau.

According to the report, Public Assistance Receipt: 2000 to 2012, 3.9 percent of households in D.C. received public assistance in 2012, or about 10,456 households, which was up from the 3.7 percent in 2011.  The District came in seventh in the ranking, behind 1) Alaska, 2) Maine, 3) Vermont, 4) Oregon, 5) California, and 6) Washington.

“Public assistance income provides cash payments to poor families or individuals and includes Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and General Assistance (GA),” explains the Census. “In both the 2011 ACS [American Community Survey] and the 2012 ACS, 3.3 million households, or 2.9 percent of all households, received public assistance at some point in the previous 12 months.”

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“Eighteen states and the District of Columbia had higher public assistance participation rates than the national average of 2.9 percent in the 2012 ACS,” reads the report. “These states were concentrated in the West (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the Northeast (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont).”

The states that ranked in the top ten for the highest percentage of households with public assistance income were Alaska (6.6 percent), Maine (5.2 percent), Vermont (4.6 percent), Oregon (4.2 percent), California (4.1 percent), Washington (4.0 percent), the District of Columbia (3.9 percent), Michigan (3.9 percent), Minnesota (3.7 percent), and Pennsylvania (3.7 percent).

The states that had the lowest percentage of households with public assistance income were North Dakota (1.5 percent), Louisiana (1.5 percent), South Carolina (1.6 percent), Wyoming (1.7 percent), Texas (1.8 percent), Georgia (1.8 percent), Alabama (1.9 percent), Virginia (2.0 percent), North Carolina (2.0 percent) and Nebraska (2.1 percent) which tied with Kansas (2.1 percent) and Indiana (2.1 percent).

“Public assistance income does not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI), non-cash benefits from programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps, or separate payment received for hospital or other medical care. To qualify for public assistance benefits, the income and assets of an individual or family must fall below specified thresholds,” the Census reports.

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