NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Figures Vindicate Welfare Reforms

October 1, 1999

Close analysis of the new household income figures released by the Census Bureau yesterday reveals that families leaving welfare for work are escaping poverty also. Welfare reform critics have long contended that while caseloads have been dropping, former welfare recipients are still consigned to poverty.

But the new figures challenge that assumption.

  • Since 1993, 4.8 million Americans have risen above the poverty level -- calculated at $13,000 for a family of three and $16,660 for a family of four.
  • The number of poor children declined from 14.1 million to 13.5 million last year.
  • The number of female heads of households in poverty dropped from 4 million to 3.8 million -- a telling figure, since single women with children constitute most welfare cases.
  • With the South showing the biggest drop in poverty, it might be assumed that moving from welfare to work results in the biggest increases in income since welfare payments are smallest in Southern states.

"Welfare reform is clearly having an impact on the numbers," concludes Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation -- who also notes that as welfare caseloads have been cut in half, the poverty rate for children is down.

Source: Richard Wolf, "Poverty Report May Boost Welfare Reform," USA Today, October 1, 1999.


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