As the economic recovery picks up steam, some states are looking for ways to help people off public assistance. Several are turning to work requirements for those on food stamps.
At the height of the recession in October 2009, Alabama had an unemployment rate of close to 12 percent. Understanding how difficult work was to find, the state lifted its requirement that able-bodied adults with no dependents eventually work their way off the food stamp program.
By January 2017 the unemployment rate had been cut in half, so Alabama reinstated the work requirement. Since then half of those on the food rolls statewide have gotten off assistance, and 13 of the poorest counties lost 85 percent of food stamp recipients.
Nicholas Horton of the Foundation for Government Accountability says that’s consistent with what he’s seen in states across the country. “There are jobs out there,” he tells OneNewsNow, “and the good news is that folks are starting to find them and becoming more independent and less dependent on the government.”
The requirements in Alabama stipulate that any able-bodied person between the ages of 18 and 50 who has no dependents is limited to three months of food stamps over any three-year period.
“These individuals … don’t actually have to work,” Horton explains. “They can fulfill this work requirement by going out and volunteering 20-hours a week, or they can receive worker training and improve themselves and improve their skills.”
According to FGA senior research fellow, the concern is that people get used to being on the government dole.
“There is a lot of welfare fraud out there and there’s a lot of things that they can do to make sure that the safety net is protected and that it’s targeted toward folks who truly need help,” he argues.
And far from victimizing low-income Alabamians, Horton contends the work requirement actually helps them overcome poverty. “The only way to end poverty and to reduce poverty is through work,” he states. “The only way you can fulfill the American Dream and provide for yourself and provide for you family is if you’re working.”
In those 13 Alabama counties, enrollment in food stamps over a four-month period plunged from 5,538 able-bodied adults without dependents to 831 such recipients.
Copyright American Family News. Reprinted with permission.