Just read a good WSJ article discussing the nationwide increases seen in the number of welfare recipients.
* Twenty-three of the thirty largest states have seen an annual increase in welfare case loads. The biggest increases are generally found in the states with the highest unemployment rates.
* Welfare cases peaked at above 5 million in 1995. In Sep 2008, most recent date on record, the number of welfare cases were 1.6 million.
* The number of food stamp recipients has increased over the last year at a greater rate than welfare recipients. The criteria to qualify for food stamps is easier than qualifying for welfare. In general, people with an income less than $2297 per month can qualify for food stamps. Additional details on food stamp programs can be found at the US Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) site.
* Average monthly welfare benefit in 2006 was $372 (Source: Sarah Murray)
Annual shift in welfare usage among top 30 most populous states (Source).