If you’re the recipient of any form of welfare, you mostly likely see it as a life saver and the only thing keeping you from ending up destitute and homeless. But how long can the US continue to pour billions of dollars into the many welfare programs?

With so many different types of welfare programs, which include SNAP (what used to be called food stamps), unemployment, housing and other programs, it’s been difficult for anyone to know exactly how much taxpayer money is being spent every year.

Thanks to the University of California at Berkeley Labor Center we may have an idea of just how much we are spending each year on welfare programs. Their study title, The High Public Cost of Low Wages: Poverty-Level Wages Cost U.S. Taxpayers $152.8 Billion Each Year in Public Support for Working Families state:

“Even as the economy has at last begun to expand at a more rapid pace, growth in wages and benefits for most American workers has continued its decades-long stagnation. Real hourly wages of the median American worker were just 5 percent higher in 2013 than they were in 1979, while the wages of the bottom decile of earners were 5 percent lower in 2013 than in 1979. Trends since the early 2000s are even more pronounced. Inflation-adjusted wage growth from 2003 to 2013 was either flat or negative for the entire bottom 70 percent of the wage distribution. Compounding the problem of stagnating wages is the decline in employer provided health insurance, with the share of non-elderly Americans receiving insurance from an employer falling from 67 percent in 2003 to 58.4 percent in 2013.”

“Stagnating wages and decreased benefits are a problem not only for low-wage workers who increasingly cannot make ends meet, but also for the federal government as well as the 50 state governments that finance the public assistance programs many of these workers and their families turn to. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of enrollees in America’s major public support programs are members of working families; the taxpayers bear a significant portion of the hidden costs of low-wage work in America.”

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