Participation in public assistance programs

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Why This Indicator Matters

Programs that help strengthen the incomes of low- and middle- income working families are often referred to as safety net programs, meaning they help prevent those families from falling farther into poverty. Research shows that in 2016, federal safety net programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and free or reduce priced school meals raised 36 million Americans out of poverty. While these programs help millions, they make up only 9% of annual federal spending (compared to 6% of annual budget dedicated to paying interest on debts and over 15% spent on defense and international security assistance). Ensuring safety net program remain strong will protect families and communities across the nation from further insecurity.
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