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Since the early 1980s, the percentage of the U.S. households that receive government benefits has increased substantially, according to U.S. Census Bureau data and the Wall Street Journal. The recent recession led to a surge in the number of households receiving government support. The statistics may surprise you.

Almost half receive government benefits
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As of the first quarter of 2011, 49.1 percent of the U.S. population lives in a household that receives some kind of government benefit.

That comes out to about 147 million people.

Up 30% from the early 1980s
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There are 30 percent more people living in government supported households now than there were in the early 1980s.

Left: Early government housing project in Utah.

Food stamps
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As of 2011, 15 precent of people lived in a household that received food stamps.

According to the most recent statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than 45.7 million Americans receive food stamps, up by 5 million from the prior year.

The average recipient receives $133 a month.

Image credit: Congressional Budget Office via wikimedia commons

26 percent of American households currently have someone receiving Medicaid.

Image: The estimated percent of GDP for Medicare and Medicaid spending in the future.

Source: Congressional Budget Office via Wikimedia Commons.

Only 2 percent receiving unemployment benefits
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Only 2 percent of households contain someone receiving unemployment benefits.

Image: An unemployment chart from 2009.

Social Security
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The Census showed that 16 percent of Americans live in a household with someone receiving Social Security.

Social Security accounted for 20 percent of federal spending in 2010.

Left: Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act.

Image credit: Social Security Administration via wikimedia commons

15 percent of Americans live in a household with someone who receives Medicare.

Spending for Medicare, Medicaid and children's health insurance accounted for more than 20 percent of government spending in 2010, according to

Chart: Future payments to beneficiaries of Medicare, 2009-2080. Source: Social Security Administration.

Do Americans want government help?
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According to a 2009 Gallup poll, 83 percent of those surveyed were in favor of the government funding new programs to help create jobs.

About 64 percent were in favor of the government giving aid to homeowners in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

Public Expectation of Social Security
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Only 33 percent of non-retirees expect the Social Security will be a major source of income when they retire, according to a 2012 Gallup Poll.

That is actually an increase from 2007, when only 27 percent of nonretirees expected substancial retirement income form Social Security.

Social Security currently is a major source of income for 57 percent of retirees.

Meeting the nation's biggest worry
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With Social Security, government hoped to calm the worries of the nation about paying for retirement.

But with Social Security quickly reaching its limits, Americans are far from confident about retirement.

In fact, paying for retirement is America's biggest financial worry. According to a 2011 Gallup Poll, 66 percent of Americans are very or moderately worried about paying for retirement, which is more than the number of people worrying about paying for healthcare bills, credit card bills, or for their child's college.

Most Americans expect to have to keep working after retirement age, according

What is the government paying for?
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In 2011, 63 percent of all federal spending went to paying individuals who currently give nothing in return, according to

That is up from 46 percent in 1975.