Sunday, February 18, 2018
Business

PolitiFact: Benefit recipients don't outnumber full-time workers

The statement

"The number of Americans who receive means-tested government benefits — welfare — now outnumbers those who are year-round full-time workers."

Charlie Sykes, conservative radio talk show host

The ruling

Sykes sent us a link to an article that appeared on the CNS News website. CNS News is a project of the Media Research Center, a conservative group that aims to counter what it sees as liberal bias in the media.

The CNS News item accurately cited two reports from the Census Bureau. One report gave the number of 108 million people receiving at least one means-tested benefit. The other gave the number of 101 million people who work full time.

The math seems simple, but those reports don't tell the entire story. Here's why.

The table on recipients of means-tested aid has this note at the top: "The figures for means-tested programs include anyone residing in a household in which one or more people received benefits from the program."

So, if one person receives Supplemental Security Income, a program for disabled adults, the entire household was included in the tally. As a result, it was possible for full-time workers to be counted as recipients.

Another table in the same data collection gives an idea of how common that might be. Out of a total of more than 108 million recipients, there were more than 79 million households with at least one person working.

Second, Sykes said this was a situation that exists "now," but the article is very clear that this information is from 2011. The economy in 2011 is not the one we have in 2013. Among other big differences, unemployment is lower by 1.4 percentage points.

We went to several agency websites to determine participation figures, and in every case they had declined.

Subsidized housing: The 2011 survey had 13 million. For 2012, we found 9 million.

SNAP (food stamps): The 2011 survey had 49 million. For 2013, we found 47 million.

Medicaid: The 2011 survey had 82 million. For 2013, we found 72 million.

TANF (welfare): The 2011 survey had 5.8 million. For 2013, we found 3.7 million.

In contrast, the number of full-time workers went up. The article cited 101 million. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 142 million.

One final note: The number of benefits recipients includes millions of children under the age of 16 and the elderly. The Census Bureau tally folds in the school lunch program. In the spring of this year, 29 million students benefited from that. About a third of the residents of public housing are older than 62. By most standards, we don't expect these people to work. To compare them to the number of full-time workers might be useful policy information, but to fail to note that children and the elderly, not to mention the blind and disabled, are folded into the tally of recipients is highly misleading.

We rate the claim False.

Edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com.

Comments
Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

Trump administration recommends stiff penalties on steel, aluminum imports

The Tampa arm of Brazilian steelmaker Gerdau S.A. was cautiously optimistic Friday after the Trump administration took a big step toward a policy Gerdau has been vocally advocating for — higher tariffs on imported steel. "We’re hopeful that President...
Published: 02/16/18
Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Facebook forges ahead with kids app despite expert criticism

Associated PressNEW YORK — Facebook is forging ahead with its messaging app for kids, despite child experts who have pressed the company to shut it down and others who question Facebook’s financial support of some advisers who approved of the app. Me...
Published: 02/16/18
Inexpensive Tampa Bay homes gain the most value of any in U.S.

Inexpensive Tampa Bay homes gain the most value of any in U.S.

Owners of affordable homes in the Tampa Bay region are seeing the biggest gains in equity among the nation’s top 20 housing markets. A bay area home now worth $110,000 rose 20 percent in value over the past year while a house now worth $337,400 incr...
Published: 02/16/18
Amid CareerSource controversy, allegations of a love affair, big raises and family favoritism at the top

Amid CareerSource controversy, allegations of a love affair, big raises and family favoritism at the top

The anonymous letter described a possible love affair at the top of the local jobs center. President and CEO Edward Peachey was in a romantic relationship with top administrator Haley Loeun, it said.It described how Loeun was seen at a conference co...
Published: 02/16/18
Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s experimenting with takeout-only locations

Outback Steakhouse, Carrabba’s experimenting with takeout-only locations

Outback Steakhouse and Carrabba’s Italian Grill have become household names in casual dining. Now, their parent company, Tampa-based Bloomin’ Brands is taking the "dining" part out in a concept that it’s bringing to Tampa Bay for the first time. A ne...
Published: 02/16/18
Which Tampa Bay ZIPs had the priciest, least expensive and most house sales in 2017?

Which Tampa Bay ZIPs had the priciest, least expensive and most house sales in 2017?

If you bought or sold a house in Tampa Bay last year, you were a player in one of Florida’s hottest real estate markets.Even though prices eased a bit from their torrid pace in 2016, the median cost of a single family home shot up 11 percent. That’s ...
Published: 02/16/18
Florida’s liquor license lottery can make you a ton of money. So why is it such a secret?

Florida’s liquor license lottery can make you a ton of money. So why is it such a secret?

Every year, millions of people play the Florida Lotto. Their chances of winning are about as great as those of being struck by a comet. Fewer than 12,000 enter a much lesser known lottery that also is run by the state. Yet the odds of winning are vas...
Published: 02/16/18
Travel insurance company brings tree houses, beer kegs and creativity to former church

Travel insurance company brings tree houses, beer kegs and creativity to former church

ST. PETERSBURG — Neither the Lutherans who first occupied the 4300 block of Central Avenue, nor the evangelical congregation that followed could ever have imagined tree houses sprouting in their church sanctuary.Yet that’s one of the plans of new own...
Published: 02/16/18
Prosecutors drop drug case against ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini

Prosecutors drop drug case against ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini

TAMPA — ConnectWise co-founder David Bellini won’t be prosecuted on a drug trafficking charge filed by Tampa police this week, the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office announced Thursday. The county’s top prosecutor instead applauded police for helpi...
Published: 02/15/18
Tropicana Field may be named for a Pepsi product, but it will now only serve Coke

Tropicana Field may be named for a Pepsi product, but it will now only serve Coke

ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium may be named for PepsiCo’s Tropicana orange juice, but that’s not stopping the baseball team from switching its pouring rights to Coke.The Rays said Wednesday the ballpark would begin serving Coca-Cola pro...
Published: 02/15/18