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Minimum wage job? Give me welfare!

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We’ve all heard the term “welfare-to-work”. The Curmudgeon is very sure that term was focus-grouped phrase designed to make “welfare” an acceptable term. It sounds like the government is giving people a “hand-up” not a “handout”. Or something.

Let’s look at a typical program.

Ohio’s effort to find jobs for welfare recipients has fallen short, according to new report.

A $66 million program launched six months ago has so far come up with work for 257 Ohioans, and three-quarters are earning $10 an hour or less. Of that number, just five were still employed after 90 days.

And half of the state’s 20 regional workforce boards trying to make placements have found no one a job, according to The Columbus Dispatch, which reported on the Jan. 24 summary by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The Ohio Works Incentive Program was intended to help people get from welfare to work, but state officials acknowledge that initial results are underwhelming.

There are some things we don’t know about this agency. The biggest thing we don’t know is the size of the pool of welfare recipients they work with. We’re guessing it’s a lot bigger than oh, say, 300. We also don’t know for sure that this particular state program is representative of all states, but again, we’d bet it’s reasonably close. If you’d like to quibble about that, quibble away.

There are some things that we DO know, however.


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The most important thing, in our less-than-humble opinion, is what incentive the clients have to go to work, and once at work, to stay in the job. Remember that most clients are being placed in jobs that, while not minimum wage, are close. Interestingly enough, they are being placed in jobs that are close to the President’s $10.10 per hour threshold he keeps talking about.

About the incentive to work. Well, it’s pretty much non-existent.

There’s interesting data that shows what welfare benefits equate to in terms of hourly pay on a state by state basis. In Ohio, and the buckeyes are right in the middle of the pack at #26, welfare pays the equivalent of $12.60 per hour.

The choice for those 257 people that the agency was able to place is fairly stark. Work 40 hours per week, commute to and from work, spend time getting ready for and decompressing from work. Or, sit on the couch, have no responsibility and make about 25% more than if you were a responsible adult and worked for a living.

That which government subsidizes we get more of.

This problem gets worse. Remember, Ohio is 26th out of 54 states and territories on their welfare payout. Hawaii is number one at $29.13 per hour or the full time equivalent of $60,590 per year. In 35 states welfare pays more than minimum wage. Here’s the graphic from the Cato Institute.

14-0301 - Welfare to Work

Is there any wonder people are dropping out of the workforce?

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