Americans relied on government programs for more of their personal income last year than at any previous time in history. According to a USA Today analysis of federal data, Social Security, unemployment, Medicare, and food stamps made up 18.3% of the national income last year, while wages accounted for a record low 51%. The wage trend has continued this year; as of February, it was down to 50.5%.
A combination of expanding federal programs, an aging populace, and persistent unemployment have led to the increase in federal program income. “What’s frightening is the Baby Boomers haven’t really started to retire,” said one economist. The eldest baby boomers turn 65 this year, and “that’s when the cost of Medicare will start to explode.”