WAMC News
1:04 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

CATO Report "The Work Versus Welfare Trade Off”

Credit taxcredits.net

Social workers across New York are “rankled” by a report from the libertarian CATO Institute that says people on public assistance have little incentive to find work because they make more than they would with a minimum-wage job.

The CATO Institute says – in a report titled "The Work Versus Welfare Trade Off” - that people on public assistance have little incentive to find work because - in 35 states - they make more than they would with a minimum-wage job. The paper raised more than a few hackles when it was released in mid-August. Michael Tanner co-authored the report.

Alice Green, executive director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, works with the poor on an almost daily basis. She says the report reminded her of the "welfare queen"  myth of the 1960s and 70s.

Many advocates for the poor argue the CATO report really amounts to a criticism of America’s low-wage economy, in that the minimum wage is not enough to get by on. Michael Tanner says America needs to look at ways to increase entry-level wages.

According to the report, 42 percent of adult welfare recipients are working : only 1 in 5 is working in an unsubsidized job.

Hunger Action Network of New York spokesman Mark Dunlea takes issue with a couple of items in the CATO report.  Dunlea points to another study from the Fiscal Policy Institute showing most new jobs in New York State are in industries like restaurants and retail that typically pay lower wages.

Advocates for the poor suggest more attention be directed toward the job market. They also want to work to get people higher wages so they can earn a better living and not have to rely on any public assistance.

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