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Which 25 states are least dependent on the federal government?

Published: Tuesday, April 1 2014 11:22 p.m. MDT

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Which states are most reliant on the federal government? Researchers at the personal finance website Wallethub dug deep into what they judged to be the key indicators of federal dependency, ranking each state according to taxes, revenue and federal employees.

"The idea of the American freeloader burst into the public consciousness when #47percent started trending on Twitter," Wallethub's John S. Kiernan wrote for the study's introduction. "While the notion is senselessly insulting to millions of hardworking Americans, it is true that some states receive a far higher return on their federal income tax investment than others."

To rank the states, Wallethub enumerated how much return each state made on "taxpayer investment," determining roughly how much federal funding the state receives for each tax dollar paid.

Wallethub also tacked the percentage of a state's budget that is provided by the federal government and how many federal employees each state has per capita.

Utah, for one, tied with Nebraska for 14th place on the list, placing the Beehive State among the 25 states least reliant on the federal government.

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Parry's Power Guide
Pleasant Grove, UT

DC is not a atate.

FatherOfFour
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

It surprises me that Utah is #14. We have a lot of wilderness land that is covered by the feds, Hill AFB and other smaller military installations, and multiple defense contractors. I am betting that our ranking on the list will change when we ask the feds for $900 million to move the prison.

tom2
Jerome, ID

It is interesting to me that most of the states on the list are considered "blue states". I naively expected it to be the opposite. It kind of flies in the face of the popular opinions about Democrats and Republicans.

Bored to the point of THIS!
Ogden, UT

Lists like this are alway interesting to me, but I understand they're a manipulation of what someone is trying to "prove".

Keep in mind this in one sample using a specific set of guidelines. Use a different set of guidelines and the list would change dramatically.

If this supports/denies your political views... keep that in mind!

Moderate
Salt Lake City, UT

Highly deceptive article.

A simpler measure is "does a state take more goverment money than it gives?"

Utah is a taker. The programs running in Utah could not survive without Federal money.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Nothing beyond the creations of nature itself, exists in the United States of America that is not protected, enabled, supplemented, or otherwise made possible by the Federal government of the United States of America.

The notion that people benefit from their American citizenship according to the state or local where they live is false. All Americans, no matter where they live, are subject to the same federal taxes, the same obligations, have the same rights, and the same protections as every other American.

The ranking of states according to how much money comes and goes is irrelevant. The fact that some state oppress or enable their residents to different degrees does not effect the citizenship of Americans.

bodgerdlue
Kearns, UT

Kind of curious about how this list was put together. For instance Washington state, which is listed as #16 has a higher return on taxpayer investment, lower funding as a percent of revenue, and a lower number of Federal employees per capita than #14 Utah. To me this would indicate that Washington should rank higher than Utah on this scale, not lower. Are we just selectively ignoring data?

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

Wait a minute. The liberals always told me that Utah was one of the most dependent states. How can we be the 14th least dependent?

Mike W
Syracuse, UT

Re: RedShirt

The conservatives always tell me how the liberal states are the ones mooching off the hard working tax payer... most of these states are liberal, interesting.

UTCProgress
American Fork, UT

@RedShirt

Go read the report. It says that "conservative" states are generally more dependent on the federal government than "liberal" states. Don't let the data get in the way of your opinion though.

LDSareChristians
Anchorage, AK

Tom2 posted: "It is interesting to me that most of the states on the list are considered "blue states"."

You got it backwards.

This is a list of LEAST dependent states. ie, all those blue states give more in taxes then they get back. For every dollar Utah pays in taxes, 86 cents comes back. The blue states have to carry the red states.

RedShirt
USS Enterprise, UT

To "Mike W" I have never heard a conservative say that liberal states are moochers. It is true that the urban welfare recipiants typically vote for Democrats. Who said that liberal states are moochers? Liberal states are struggling more than conservative ones, and are having bigger problems with their budgets.

To "UTCProgress" I don't think you heard what I said. I was not talking about all conservatives states. I said "Wait a minute. The liberals always told me that Utah was one of the most dependent states. How can we be the 14th least dependent?" If your ilk says that Utah is so dependent on federal money, how can we be 14th least dependent? Doesn't that mean that we cover most of our own expenses?

If we can cover so much of our own expenses while only controlling 36% of the land in Utah, don't you think that if we gained controll of another 36% or more that we could nearly get out from under the money that the Feds send Utah each year?

LDSareChristians
Anchorage, AK

If you go to the wallethub website and click on the red vs blue link, you'll see that the blue states rate 19.1 vs red states 33.3 rating. 19.1 being least dependent on Federal Taxes..

Mkithpen
Sandy, UT

After being sold out on Common Core I would have thought that our dependence on the Federal Government would have been more. Can you imagine how much less dependent we would be without the string tied into Common Core?

The Rock
Federal Way, WA

If we simply looked at the number of people dependent upon government, at any level, for their livelihood, it would be much more revealing.

(Welfare Recipients + Food Stamp Recipients + Federal Employees + State Employees + Social Security Recipients) / Population = Percent dependent upon government.

While many of these people provide valuable services and Social Security Recipients have earned what they are getting, the closer this figure moves toward zero the better.

Kate Hutch
Kenmore, WA

When you factor in corporate subsidies and deductions for homeowners' tax burdens, you come up with all kinds of different perceptions about social welfare/food stamps/social security, etc. About 59 billions is spent on social welfare programs, while 92 billion is spent on corporate subsidies. One must really get facts prior to criticizing the poor. I don't like scammers any more than the next person, but it's the rich who are taking waaaay more of your hard-earned dollars out of your pocket.

killpack
Sandy, UT

There are way too many federal employees in ALL states. No wonder Romney lost.

cjb
Bountiful, UT

If a state has lots of federal government employees rather than say the state is highly dependent on the federal government, more accurate would be to say that state and the federal government are highly dependent on each other.

Work is not the same as welfare or a handout.

golong
Washington, UT

DC is on the list. First, DC is not a state, and second it has so many federal employees, how can it even be on the list. It probably belongs at number 50...or 51

GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA

The article says that the Blue States are less dependent on the Federal Government, but we already knew that Republican states generally don't pay their way, though Right Wingers insist the opposite is true.

But Right Wingers are continually contradicting reality in their unfounded beliefs.

I think the study should have involved more data components. It included the payments to Federal employees, but it did not include payments to Federal retirees.

If it had included payments to federal retirees, it's likely the disparity between Red and Blue states would have been much greater.

We pay over $50 billion every year to military retirees alone, and much more to non-military federal retirees, and most of them settle down in their home (Red) states or move to a warm Red state like Arizona or Florida.

If federal retirement pay had been included to analyze the data, it most likely would have shown the Red states as being much more dependent on Federal money.

killpack
Sandy, UT

@cjb

'Work is not the same as welfare or a handout.'

That depends on how you define work. Civil service, and dare I say many military positions, are not real jobs. I was in the military. I know what it's like. Thank goodness I have a real job now. I get paid way less and have no benefits, but at least I have regained my self respect. Then again, working for the government really isn't the same as welfare or a handout. I could never party like a GSA or IRS rockstar in Vegas with just a measly welfare check.

silverbear
Goshen, UT

Perhaps the time has come for the federal government to return more control of the states and their funding to the states. If each state was in charge of national parks, forests, etc. Than they would not have to rely on DC for funding. The states would hire and pay local people for their services and the work load of dept of interior would reduce and taxpapers dollars could go to pay off the national debt.

Daniel L.
Murray, UT

Interesting to note that the western states have higher levels of federal employees per capita than east and west coast states. With vast amount of land governed and regulated by federal employees of one kind or another, some of these areas are larger than some states. I would think that our western states, with smaller populations, would have to be highly productive per capita to enable any western state to fall high in this type of ranking.

SG in SLC
Salt Lake City, UT

golong,

Objecting to D.C.'s inclusion in the list is nit-picking. It is roughly equivalent to a state (except for the whole “taxation without representation” thing), and is frequently included in state ranking statistics.

Most of the federal employees who work in Washington, D.C. live in Virginia or Maryland. On the other hand, less than a third of the workers residing in the District work for the government. Many of the private sector workers living in D.C. work for businesses that either support the federal government or extensively interact with it, such as law firms, independent contractors, non-profit organizations, lobbying firms, trade unions, industry trade groups, and professional associations that have their headquarters in Washington.

Tourism is Washington's second largest industry, which would explain why nearly 10% of workers living in D.C. work in "Leisure & Hospitality" occupations.

Washington, D.C. is also home to Georgetown University, George Washington University, Washington Hospital Center, Children's National Medical Center, and Howard University. Not coincidentally, over 15% of workers living in D.C. work in "Education & Health Services" occupations.

So, yes, it’s okay to include Washington D.C. on the list; and no, it shouldn’t be ranked 51st.

LOU Montana
Pueblo, CO

Here’s a list of the top 10 states that got the most back in terms of federal benefits, followed by the bottom 10.
Top Ten (Source: Tax Foundation):

1. New Mexico
2. Mississippi
3. Alaska
4. Louisiana
5. W. Virginia
6. N. Dakota
7. Alabama
8. S. Dakota
9. Virginia
10. Kentucky

Now consider the bottom 10, i.e., the ones that give more to the federal government in taxes than they get in return. From 1 to 10, they are:New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, Colorado.Anything strange about that list? Yes, they are all blue states (or the deepest of purple).

RedShirtCalTech
Pasedena, CA

To "LOU Montana" can you tell us what the money is going for? For example, in New Mexico they have most of their state land owned by the Federal Government. Since it is owned by the Federal Government, the Feds pay what amounts to a property tax. Or is the money going for welfare?

There is a difference. For example, if state controlled nearly all of the land withing their state boundaries, they could collect additional revenues through royalties and leases. If they are getting money for welfare, then there is a dependance.

So, tell us which states are getting the most welfare, not property tax from the Feds.

factsplease
SLO, CA

Interesting to note Utah, Alaska (and D.C. Of course) have the highest number of federal employees per capita.

UTahns are unaware of how much the IRS contributes to their economy.

Hank Jr
Draper, UT

There is no way Washington DC should be included on this list. They are the most dependent on the Federal Government of all 50 states.

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