NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

States Meeting Welfare Reform Work Goals

December 30, 1998

Most states are meeting the welfare reform requirement that roughly 25 percent of beneficiaries hold jobs or actively prepare themselves for work, according to the first official data.

  • The data show that 28 percent of adults on welfare are engaged in some sort of work activity.
  • Work participation rates ranged from 13.5 percent in Louisiana to 96.7 percent in Oregon.
  • Data for 14 states were unavailable, incomplete or unverified.
  • The goal set for 2002 is to have half of adult welfare recipients working.

The law stipulates adults must be working in no fewer than 25 percent of families on welfare or the states are subjected to financial penalties. The federal work requirements are reduced for states that have cut their welfare rolls since 1995 -- as almost all states have.

Nationwide, the number of people on welfare has dropped by nearly one-third since August 1996 -- to 8.4 million. Ten states had fewer than 25 percent of adult welfare recipients working in 1997. Among them were California, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Texas.

Iowa, Oregon, Wisconsin Connecticut and Wyoming were among the high performers. In each of these states, more than half of adult welfare recipients were working or engaged in work activities.

The 1996 law set a goal of 75 percent work participation for two- parent families -- who account for only 7 percent of the national welfare total. Seventeen of the 32 states reporting two-parent data failed to meet that goal.

Source: Robert Pear, "Most States Meet Work Requirement of Welfare Law," New York Times, December 30, 1998.


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