More On Welfare Than Are Low-Income – How’s That?


Our Fixing the System: Freeing Maine Families from Welfare Dependency report, which we released on September 9, continues to get much attention.  Thousands have visited our Web site to learn more about how many are trapped in poverty in their own towns and communities and what they can do about it.

On September 16, the US Census Bureau released updated information on those in poverty in Maine.  The numbers are quite revealing:

  • In 2009-2010, there were 152,685 individuals in poverty in Maine – about one in nine individuals.  Poverty is defined as a family of two earning less than $14,570 a year or earning less than $22,050 for a family of four.

Yet, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ own September welfare report shows that:

  • There were 392,398 people on at least one major welfare program in Maine (TANF cash assistance, food stamps and/or Medicaid) last month – almost one in three individuals.

How can this be?  There are almost three times more people on welfare in Maine than the number living in poverty?

What about low-income individuals, typically defined as those earning less than twice the poverty limit or less than $29,140 for a family of two or $44,100 for a family of four?

  • According to the Census Bureau, 29.9% of Mainers are low income or 390,673 low-income individuals in Maine.

This means that there are more individuals on welfare in Maine that there are defined as low-income.

And some still try to argue that Maine does not have a welfare dependency crisis?