The percentage of households in the United States receiving public assistance--welfare--stood at 2.9 percent in 2012. the most recent data available. the same as in 2011. In Arkansas, 2.7 percent of households I received public assistance in 2012, compared with 2.8 percent in 2011. In 2012, Alaska had the highest percentage of households receiving public assistance: 6.6 percent. Louisiana and North Dakota had the lowest percentage at 1.5 percent.
Public assistance gives cash payments to 41 poor families or individuals. It includes Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TAN F, and General Assistance. TANF replaced Aid to Families with Dependent Children in 1997, after the Personal Responsibility & Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996--"welfare reform"--was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. Public assistance income doesn't include Supplemental Security Income, noncash benefits from programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps) or payments received for medical care.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
Percentage of Households receiving Public Assistance in the Past 12 months by State and Puerto Rico: 2012