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1) How Many People Participate in the Social Safety Net?

Social safety net programs provide different types of support to people facing economic hardship. This data point presents estimates of overall participation in the social safety net in 2019, the latest year of available data and presents rates of participation in multiple programs.

Key Points:

-- In 2019, 99.1 million people participated in one of the 10 programs discussed in this brief, representing 30 percent of the U.S. population.
-- More than one in four working-age adults (27 percent) and nearly one of every two children (49 percent) participated in a safety net program.
-- One in six people (16 percent) and one in three children (33 percent) participated in multiple safety net programs.
-- Among beneficiaries, 54 percent of people participated in multiple programs including two out of three children (67 percent). Among people in the United States who received a benefit from two or more programs, most were children or older adults (56 percent).
2) How Many People that Receive One Safety Net Benefit Also Receive Others
People facing economic instability often need more than one program or service. This pre-pandemic analysis looks at the reach of the social safety net, including the interaction of specific programs, to better understand program participation as the economy continues to recover.

Key Points:

-- Participants in some programs are more likely to receive multiple benefits than others.
-- People with child care subsidies from the Child Care and Development Fund and participants in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families are the most likely to participate in other programs.
-- Participants receiving Medicaid or the earned-income tax credit were least likely to participate in two or more other programs.

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