10 States Most Dependent on the Federal Government

The U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. | Win McNamee/Getty Images

Self-sufficiency is inherently an American ideal, and one that many people take great care to achieve, and pride in attaining. It isn’t easy though, and there are many factors at play. It’s not simply a calculation of who has the most money or best skill set — although that plays a part in it. Resources simply aren’t always distributed equally. And even if you look at which states themselves are the richest or poorest, you’re not getting a complete picture.

The true genius of America’s political organization lies partially within the way the states and the federal government form a cohesive bond. Essentially, the states themselves act as individual laboratories, all separate and able to take self-direction and action, yet all tied together under a unified central government.

Individuals in each city, county and state are free to elect their own representatives, whether to local governmental bodies or federal ones. In this way, we are all able to get a glimpse into how competing ideologies or methodologies for governance work for different groups of people in different situations, and cherry pick from a variety of different perspectives.

As a result, each state has a certain amount of natural competition with its counterparts. States compete with each other in order to attract businesses and investment dollars, for example, or to attract students to their universities. However, given the major demographic, economic, political, and geographical differences between different states, some carry unique burdens while others have unique advantages. Border states, for example, are much more concerned with immigration policies than central states are, and Gulf Coast states are much more concerned with the health and viability of the Gulf of Mexico than those located in the northeast, who may be more concerned about political tensions with Europe and Canada.

Because of differences like these, as well as differences in policy and fiscal decisions, states depend on support from the federal government to vastly different degrees. WalletHub recently released its annual study looking at federal dependency, and assumed the burden of digging into the data to find out definitively which states lean the most-heavily on Uncle Sam for support. The methodology is complex, so it’s recommended you click over and check out the release for yourself..

According to WalletHub’s research, here are the ten states that depend the most upon the federal government. And if you can’t wait, here’s a quick map as a preview:

Source: WalletHub