Public welfare encompasses a variety of federal, state, and local programs, including Social Security and TANF, which offer direct assistance to eligible populations, Medicaid and Medicare, which offer healthcare to low-income and elderly populations, unemployment insurance, and other important support to Americans.
In the last 20 years alone, state and local welfare spending has more than tripled, rising from $233 billion nationally in 2000 to $743 billion in 2019. As a share of total spending, welfare spending has risen from 13.4% of state and local budgets at the start of the millennium to 18.8% in 2019. Researchers ranked states according to state and local welfare spending per capita and included the share of total state spending dedicated to welfare spending in each location.
In West Virginia, 25.7% of total state spending is dedicated to welfare spending, compared to the national average of 18.8%. In total, West Virginia spends about $2,708 per resident on welfare each year. Out of all U.S. states, West Virginia spends the 12th most on welfare.