NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

New Report Finds Welfare Reform Reduced Poverty

June 3, 2002

A Bush administration report to Congress today says that welfare reforms enacted in 1996 have helped lower the nation's poverty rate.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services study:

  • Four years after the reform law was enacted in 1996, 5.1 million fewer Americans were dependent on welfare -- a 40 percent drop.
  • The number of families on welfare has dropped 2.4 million, or 54 percent, most of which consist of single mothers with children.
  • The percentage of Americans living in poverty -- below $17,463 annually for a family of four in 2000 -- declined from 13.7 percent of the U.S. population in 1996 to 11.3 percent in 2000.
  • That is the lowest poverty rate in 23 years.

HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said mandating work for welfare recipients is their best ticket out of poverty. ''The study clearly shows that work must be at the center of any meaningful welfare reform,'' he said.

Source: Richard Benedetto, "Bush to use report to bolster welfare reform Study shows mandating work reduces poverty, official says," USA Today, June 3, 2002.


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