Per-capita federal spending in California among lowest in U.S.

Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento received the most federal money of all California counties in 2009, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The report found that the federal government spends more money in California than any other state, thanks to its having nearly 12 percent of the nation's population.

But California's per capita federal spending is one of the nation's lowest, according to the report.

The report, covering federal spending for fiscal 2009, says that Californians received $346 billion in federal funds during the year from dozens of specific programs, including Social Security, 10.7 percent of the $3.2 trillion in federal outlays.

California's per capita spending, however, was 36th among the states — in part because with a relatively young population, the state was 48th in retirement and disability payments.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other California political figures have complained about the relative low return of federal funds to the state, but if Social Security is a major factor in such low ranking, there may be little or nothing that politicians can do about the situation.

That's especially true when California once was the recipient of 20 percent of national defense spending. That has since fallen to 11 percent. Virginia — home of the Pentagon — now is the largest destination of defense spending.

California's $346 billion in federal spending in 2009 was actually a sharp increase from the $300 billion in 2008 and the $260 billion in 2007. One reason for the increase is the state's high unemployment rate. The feds spent $12.1 billion on unemployment insurance payments in 2009.

Within California, Los Angeles County — home of more than a quarter of the state's population — was also the state's largest recipient of federal funds in 2009, WITH $80.2 billion or 23 percent of the state's total.

San Diego County ranked second, with nearly $38 billion in federal expenditures, followed by Sacramento County, which reported nearly $28 billion in federal expenditures. Sacramento County's spending included nearly $3.8 billion for retirement and disability programs.

Alpine County, with 1,041 residents, reported the lowest amount of federal expenditures in the state, at nearly $15 million.