Welfare To Work: What Have We Learned


Publication Date: June 2007

Publisher: Joyce Foundation

Author(s): Anthony Mallon

Research Area: Economics; Labor

Keywords: welfare to work; cash assistance; working families ; low-income families

Type: Report

Coverage: Illinois Indiana Ohio Minnesota Iowa Wisconsin


This Joyce Foundation study finds that hundreds of thousands of Midwest welfare recipients have gone to work since 1996, but most have taken jobs that pay low wages, are part-time, or don't last. As a result, most of those who have made the transition from welfare to work remain poor.

The report presents leading research on welfare-to-work initiatives in the Midwest, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These states have pioneered innovative strategies to support welfare recipients' transition to work, including "work first" and "making work pay" by offering cash assistance and other supports to working families.

Welfare to Work: What Have We Learned? shows that in the Midwest, as nationally, welfare rolls plummeted during the 1990s, and most of those who left welfare went to work. Work supports – such as child care, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit – have helped thousands of working families make ends meet. But many of the jobs recipients took are part time or short term, and wages are low. As a result, many working families still face serious economic hardships.

The main report is accompanied by detailed state-by-state reports and at-a-glance data, and concludes with recommendations drawn from the research for improving the lives of working families.