NCPA Study Shows Those Sill On Welfare Are Not The Most Difficult Cases

NCPA Study Shows Those Sill On Welfare Are Not The Most Difficult Cases

DALLAS (October 7, 2002) — Welfare rolls have fallen more than 60 percent nationwide during the last 10 years, mostly since reforms were enacted in 1996. But the effectiveness of reform varies widely from state to state. According to a study released today by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), another 1 out of every 6 people (15 percent) on welfare could have gotten off the public dole had the worst performing states just managed to do as well as the average state.

According to the NCPA study, the success of each state's efforts to reduce their welfare rolls ranged from Wyoming, which reduced its rolls by more than 95 percent, to Nevada, which has managed to reduce its rolls by only 27 percent. Further, similar states had very dissimilar results. For example, Illinois reduced its rolls by 78 percent (ranking 5th), while neighboring Indiana managed only a 36 percent reduction (ranking 48th).

The NCPA study found that more than half of all remaining welfare recipients live in states which lack stiff work requirements. For example, nearly a third of all remaining welfare recipients live in New York and California – two states that continue to provide a variety of benefits regardless of work status.

From January 1993 through 2001, the top five and bottom five most effective states at reducing their welfare rolls were:

Top Five: Percent Reduction in Welfare Rolls

1. Wyoming – 95 percent

2. Idaho – 89 percent.

3. Wisconsin – 82 percent.

4. Florida – 82 percent.

5. Illinois – 76 percent.

Bottom Five: Percent Reduction in Welfare Rolls

50. Nevada – 27 percent.

49. Rhode Island – 35 percent.

48. Indiana – 36 percent.

47. Hawaii – 40 percent.

46. Arizona – 45 percent

The NCPA study also refutes two widely held predictions. First, that those leaving welfare rolls would be the easiest to place in the workforce, leaving the hardest cases behind – poorly educated, minority, single-mothers who have never held a job. Second, that once off welfare, these women would suffer from lower incomes. Both predictions proved to be wrong.

"Women who were predicted to be the hardest to place have left the welfare rolls faster than women who are much less at risk," said Joe Barnett, director of publications at the NCPA and author of the study. "In addition, most of those leaving the welfare rolls have found employment, increased their incomes relative to those remaining on welfare, and are gradually moving up the income ladder."

The NCPA study shows that welfare rolls can be reduced even further if more states adopt the following:

  • Effective sanctions that swiftly withdraw all cash benefits when recipients refuse to work, and
  • Requiring more welfare recipients to work, as President Bush and the House of Representatives have proposed, to encourage more single mothers to make the transition from welfare to work.

Conversely, loosening time limits and work requirements, as the Senate Finance Committee has proposed, would encourage women to continue collecting welfare. The end result of the Committee's proposal, according to the NCPA study, would be more families dependent on welfare for years to come.