From April to March of 2016, the number of people collecting food stamps has decreased by 773,134. We haven’t seen enrollment levels like this since 2011 and this is the biggest drop since 2005.
But, welfare reform is still on the long road to recovery. Food stamp participation is still higher than before the recession, according to the Index of Culture and Opportunity. And for the next few years, this number is anticipated to remain higher than pre-recession levels.
Ever since the recession, policies were put in place to make it easier for people to get on food stamp programs. The work requirement for able-bodied adults without dependents was removed in Obama’s 2009 stimulus package.
But, a few states have recently incorporated work requirements to welfare programs. And the success of these programs have partially attributed to the nationwide decrease in food stamp collectors.
On January 1, 22 states waivers had expired. They then had to reinstate the federal work requirement for either certain areas of the state or the whole state.
Some of the states took particularly proactive approaches to encourage program users to enter the workforce and it really paid off.
Maine saw a decrease of 80% of able-bodied adults without dependents on the food stamp programs. Kansas saw a caseload decline of 75%. According to the Foundation for Government Accountability, 60% of Kansans who were rolled off food stamps, found employment within 12 months and “their incomes rose by an average of 127 % per year.”
In Indiana, the state saw a 68% decrease in their able-bodied adults without dependents caseload. “Nearly 5,000 Hoosiers who were receiving benefits in July are no longer receiving assistance because they obtained gainful employment and now have an income that exceeds eligibility standards,” according to Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration.
Although these states are seeing impressive roll-off rates, more than half of the country’s states are not requiring that able-bodied adults without dependents work in order to collect food stamps.
By requiring that individuals get back to work, not only are they on the road to self-sufficiency, but they aren’t taking advantage of hard-working tax payers.
Maine, Kansas and Indiana have paved the way for the rest of the states to follow suit and then they too will evidently see their welfare program numbers drop.