Almost Half of Americans Live in a Household Receiving Government Benefits

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According to U.S. Census data, 48.6% of the population lived in a household that received some form of government aid in the second quarter of 2010, which rose slightly from the previous quarter — another sign of how dependent on federal aid Americans have grown during the Great Recession.

The latest Census data shows not only the depth of the recession’s toll on the economy but the increase in federal support under the Obama administration. A number of government programs were expanded under the Obama administration, including an extension of unemployment benefits and increased access to food stamps for many Americans.

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In the second quarter of 2010, 34.4% of people in the U.S. lived in a household that received either food stamps, subsidized housing or Medicaid — up from 32.8% the previous year. Food stamps and Medicaid, specifically, largely drove that increase between 2009 and 2010.

The Census data shows how the recession pushed record numbers of Americans to lean on the government for financial support in the last several years, but as the economy improves, government benefits are likely to wane. Unemployment insurance won’t always be available to those without work for up to 99 weeks, as it currently is. Food stamps won’t be so easy to get. And things could really change if one of the GOP candidates is able to unseat President Obama this year. Expect these numbers to start going down within the next several years.