NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Further Evidence Of Welfare Reform's Success

August 31, 2000

The movement of people from welfare rolls to productive jobs in the four years since welfare reform took place is an oft-told and oft-documented success story. Here are a few more indications of the progress that has been made:

  • Accompanying reform, child poverty dropped from 22.7 percent in 1993 to 18.9 percent in 1998 -- the biggest five-year drop in 30 years.
  • The poverty rate for families of single mothers fell to 38.7 percent in 1998 -- an all-time low.
  • Some 60 percent of those who have left welfare are still working after a year, according to the Urban Institute.
  • Those leaving welfare earn a median wage of $6.61 an hour, or $13,788 a year.

Although that is about the poverty level for a family of three, former recipients also can get noncash benefits such as Medicaid, child care and food stamps. They are also eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.

A study of 12 states by the Urban Institute found that these benefits pushed a family of three to 20 percent above the poverty level. With just welfare and no work, the same family would fall 32 percent below the poverty line.

Analysts who have kept track of the reform process point out that although some former welfare recipients who are eligible for Medicaid coverage haven't signed up for it, few if any are not getting the medical care they need. Similarly, while some are failing to enroll for food stamps, plenty of food is being distributed by private groups.

Source: Kevin Butler, "Reforms Help Millions Leave Welfare, Go Back to Work -- and Stay There," Investor's Business Daily, August 31, 2000.


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