NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 11, 2005

All states have been successful to a degree in their implementation of welfare reform though there remains substantial room for improvement, says Jenifer Zeigler of the Cato Institute.

In an analysis of state structural reforms -- such as time limits, sanctions and work requirements -- Zeigler graded how successful each state was in transitioning people off welfare. Each state was rated on a scale of 1-100, with the following results:

  • Four states, Idaho, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Ohio scored in excess of 70 points, earning an A; Idaho received the top score of 76.
  • Seven states scored between 60 and 69, earning a B grade, while there were 20 C states and 11 D states.
  • Nine states averaged below 40 and received failing grades; states scoring an F are the District of Columbia, Maine, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont.

Overall, welfare caseloads dropped 58 percent between 1996 and 2002. Poverty levels have also fallen. However, states continue to face budget shortfalls and a struggling economy, putting state programs to a more rigorous test.

Source: Jenifer Zeigler, "Implementing Welfare Reform: A State Report Card," Cato Institute, October 19, 2004.

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