Monday, July 14, 2014

US welfare numbers stayed down

Here's an update on US welfare numbers (as separate from unemployment or disability benefits). Since the welfare reforms, which largely affected single mothers and their children, the numbers have dropped drastically and, despite the GFC, stayed down. Those receiving cash assistance (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) are described below. In 2012 only 28.6% of all the funding went on cash assistance. The rest was spent on supporting people into work, childcare and child protection services.

Cash Assistance Caseload.
A total of 1.8 million families, composed of 4.1 million recipients,
received TANF- or MOE-funded cash in March 2013. The bulk of the “recipients” were children—3.1 million in that month. The cash assistance caseload is very heterogeneous. The type of family historically thought of as the “typical” cash assistance family—one with an unemployed adult recipient—accounted for less than half of all families on the rolls in FY2010. Additionally,
15% of cash assistance families had an employed adult, while almost half of all families had no adult recipient. Child-only families include those with disabled adults receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI), adults who are nonparents (e.g., grandparents, aunts, uncles) caring for children, and families consisting of citizen children and ineligible noncitizen parents.


Anonymous said...

I confess to having some difficulty in believing anything supposedly official any more. Such stats, like all of them I guess, rely on the integrity of the data punchers and in a political world we know how that can be distorted to suit desired political outcomes.


thor42 said...

Interesting stuff.

Welfare in the US seems to be *hugely* more complex than it is here. As well as the TANF program, there is (as I understand it) a massive program that distributes food stamps.
Then there are the individual states with their own programs.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Fair enough comment. Though states have no incentive to misrepresent their numbers because since 1996 they each receive a yearly block grant. No more, no less. Part of the problem pre-reform was they received federal funding to match need so there was no reason to try and bring numbers down. And both Democrats and Republicans agreed about the need to reform welfare. It was Clinton that signed the PRWORA (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act).

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Last comment was directed to Anon.

Thor42, It is more complex in that there are 3 different systems and administrative departments compared to our one.

Unemployment benefits are funded through payroll taxes, pay a percentage of previous wage and are time-limited (though the legislature can extend eligibility in a recession).

Disability benefits (Supplemental Social Security) are paid for through taxation and not time-limited. Administered by Social Security Department.

And then family assistance (what Americans call 'welfare') is administered through Health and Human Services and paid for through taxation. Mostly limited to 5 years in a lifetime with exemptions for unusual cases.

As you say,further complicating matters, taxation is at both federal and state level.

Food Stamps, now called SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is huge but lowers the need for cash assistance.

A good source for anyone interested is:

S. Beast said...

So Forbes is wrong when it printed an article stating that over half of their citizens receive welfare?


For those of you who still think that the US model of welfare is something we should aspire to here is a story on the new Pot for the Poor scheme

Lindsay Mitchell said...

S Beast

1/ Half of NZ citizens probably receive "government benefits" by US standards. For instance WFF (similar to US Earned Income Tax Credits.)

2/ Is a UK report, not US.

3/ In NZ, certain pharmaceuticals are fully subsidised to low income families. If we legalised medicinal marijuana the same protocol might apply. What is your point?

Anonymous said...

Rather more than half. WFF, ACC, EQC, Super (including those expecting to receive it when they reach the qualifying age) and the big ones: health and education --- all of those count as government benefits, none of which are provided federally in the US.

once you realise that almost everyone - 90-95% of Kiwis - are bludgers, NZ's politics gets a lot easier to understand.