Social Security’s economic contributions to communities, counties, and states continue to be misunderstood and often ignored in Washington’s fiscal debates. A new online report unveiled by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation provides a detailed look at the significant economic impact generated by Social Security benefits. Social Security Spotlight delivers data on beneficiaries by state, county, Congressional district, race/ethnicity, age and gender. Also available are the Economic Stimulus Impact for each state, and the Regional Support Index (RSI) which illustrates the level of support that Social Security provides to all residents of a given state or county. This comprehensive data details what America’s retirees, people with disabilities, survivors and their families know first-hand — Social Security plays a vital economic role for families, communities and businesses throughout America.
In 2014 alone, Social Security delivered a $1.6 trillion fiscal boost nationwide as benefits were spent and cycled through the economy. The report’s impact estimates are adjusted for taxes and the composition of state economies, which affect how benefits are multiplied and generate additional economic activity. For example in 2014, California residents received $80.4 billion in benefits, which added $165.9 billion to the state economy. At the other extreme, District of Columbia residents received $1.1 billion in benefits, which generated $1.6 billion in economic activity. The Regional Support Index (RSI), shows that between 2008 and 2013, Social Security also played a growing economic role in the vast majority (nearly 94%) of counties’ throughout the nation. In fact, 34 states showed a high/medium RSI ranking, demonstrating how important Social Security’s stimulus and stabilization effects are to states large or small, and rural and urban residents.
Social Security Spotlight can be especially helpful during the 2016 election cycle for voters, journalists, policy makers and campaign staff as the future of Social Security is debated. There have been numerous policy proposals that could diminish the earned benefits in Social Security triggering financial losses not only for American workers, retirees, the disabled, and their families but also their communities, counties and states. Every Congressional and Presidential candidate will be encouraged to take a hard look at the economic impact numbers. Voters should also ask candidates and incumbents, “Can our community afford the economic hit which would come by cutting benefits?”
Here’s a look at some of the information available for each state. This example highlights Florida:
Total # Social Security beneficiaries:
4.2 million residents receive $62 billion in benefits. Sumter County receives the highest per capita Social Security income, Lafayette with the lowest.
Economic Impact Dollars:
Regional Support Index:
In 26 Florida Counties, 25% or more of the population receives Social Security.
In 32 Florida Counties, Social Security is 10% or more of their citizens’ income.
Since 2008, Social Security’s economic impact has increased in every Florida County.
4.2 million Florida beneficiaries 75.5% White, 13.2% Hispanic, 1.4% Asian, 8.9% African American, 6.1% children
The Social Security Spotlight project was funded by a grant from the Retirement Research Foundation. The project has been guided by the Task Force on the Future of America’s Health and Retirement Security. Research was conducted by: Peter S. Arno, PhD, Senior Fellow and Director of Health Policy Research at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare Foundation board member, and Andrew R. Maroko, PhD, Assistant Professor, City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy.