A new report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors finds that most recipients of major federal welfare programs are healthy and that most only work a few hours a week. So, it’s time to expand work requirements again, as was done in the 1990s.
Non-disabled working-age adults made up the majority of adult recipients on Medicaid (61 percent), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (67 percent), and rental housing assistance programs (59 percent) as of December 2013, based on data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP). Figure 1 (vertical axis) shows that the majority of these adult recipients worked few if any hours each week while receiving benefits: 60 percent of Medicaid, 60 percent of SNAP, and 52 percent of housing-assisted non-disabled working-age recipients worked fewer than 20 hours per week.
Self- sufficiency has been declining in recent decades while material hardship has fallen, motivating a renewed focus on building self-sufficiency via work requirements . . . evidence suggests that welfare programs that require work in return for benefits increase adult employment and may improve children’s outcomes.
Current labor markets are extremely tight and unemployment rates are at very low levels, even for low-skilled workers. Still, even if work requirements improve outcomes for the majority of affected recipients, some may experience negative effects, which is why it is important to design requirements carefully and to support recipients overcoming barriers to employment (e.g., lack of access to childcare, mental illness, or criminal records). Ultimately, expanded work requirements can improve the lives of current welfare recipients and at the same time respect the importance and dignity of work.
What a change from the Obama administration, when White House officials were devoted to increasing dependency by trying to sign up more people for welfare.
H/T Washington Examiner.