NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

How Are Welfare-Leavers Doing?

August 2, 1999

Welfare reform did not push masses of families into homelessness as opponents predicted. Instead, most single mothers who left welfare between 1995 and 1997 ended up working full time and earning more than the minimum wage, according to an Urban Institute study being released today.

  • About 93 percent of people leaving welfare for work are single mothers.
  • Between 1995 and 1997, some 2.1 million left welfare rolls for at least one month -- but by 1997, 29 percent of those who left welfare were back on it.
  • Of those who stayed off the rolls, 61 percent had jobs.
  • Seventy percent of working ex-recipients were employed full-time or at least 35 hours a week -- at an average hourly wage of $6.61.

Of the 39 percent of "leavers" who were not working, many had income from disability benefits, child support or another household member who worked.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Single Moms Leave Welfare for Work," Washington Times, August 2, 1999.


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