From Welfare to the Low-Wage Labor Market

June 22, 2004

Sheldon Danziger, University of Michigan poverty expert, used data that followed women in one Michigan county post welfare-reform through the economic boom of the 1990s and into the current sluggish economy. His conclusion: welfare reform did reduce the welfare rolls and increase employment. But reform's other goal -- to make work pay -- has proven more elusive. Most parents can receive welfare for only five years in their lifetime, but many full-time working single mothers are forever caught in poverty-wage jobs with few benefits. Danziger concludes that reasonable policy changes would increase the likelihood that women making the transition from welfare to work and millions of others could move out of low-wage jobs and into good ones.