As unpopular as it has been to link the re-election of President Obama with the growth of the welfare state, the rapid increase in welfare recipients is difficult to ignore. Unfortunately, government dependency has exploded in Colorado over the past decade, even as personal income has consistently tracked above the national average.
From 2001 to 2011, transfer payments (e.g., welfare, food stamps, entitlements) to Colorado residents have increased at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9%. As a comparison, income from wages grew at 3.4% annually in Colorado, and income from dividends, interest, and rent grew at just 2.9% per year. At the end of 2011, transfer payments represented 13% of all personal income in Colorado, up from eight percent a decade earlier.
Interestingly, as the Democratic party slowly chipped away at solid Republican control of elected offices in Colorado over the past decade, government dependency, measured by transfer payments as a percent of total income in the state, grew by more than 60%. There is no sign of this trend reversing.
The fact is that the economy is still sputtering necessitating some increase in government support, but there are some who are taking advantage of the system. Either way, with Democratic control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s mansion, the likelihood of this trend decreasing is slim.