Monthly Archives: April 2015

Public Assistance, Private Subsidies and Low Wage Jobs

Recently, Ken Jacobs, Ian Perry and Jenifer MacGillvary from UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education released a detailed report showing that the majority of public assistance payments—such as EITC, food stamps (SNAP), child care subsidies, TANF, Medicaid–go to working families.  Working, per se, turns out not to be a guarantee against reliance on such assistance. When wages are low (or workers have insufficient hours) families often qualify for tax-payer funded safety net programs. Across states, the working family share of pubic assistance ranged from 43% in Alaska to 66% in Texas.

So is this a problem? That depends on who you ask. Moreover, there are different reasons for considering this to be a problem.  Here I lay out three such reasons, and assess their relevance. Continue reading