Welfare Assistance In Mid-South Could Hurt Poverty Rates

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(Memphis) Some welfare recipients may get more money sitting at home than if the actually got a job.

A new study by the Cato Institute claims people on assistance in the some parts of the country pull in over 60,000 a year, but that’s not the case here in the Mid-South.

The Work Versus Welfare tradeoff study shows people on assistance in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi bring in an average of $12,000 a year, which is comparable to $5.50 an hour, far below minimum wage.

“A family that’s relying on the minimum wage is doing better than a family on assistance,” said researcher Doug Imig with the Urban Child Institute.

Imig says those on assistance in the Mid-South live below the poverty line, meaning they can’t afford proper nutritious food.

“In Memphis and Shelby County, no one on assistance is doing better than the least well off worker,” said Imig.

The Urban Child Institute says this has a direct impact on poverty and children’s development in the mid-south.

“A typical child whose parents are on welfare will know a third as many words when they are three as the child of professionals,” said Imig.

But in some parts of the country like Hawaii and the Northeast where the cost of living is higher welfare recipients pull in more than 60 grand a year.

“That’s too much. That’s ridiculous. They need to work. You can’t live off the government your whole life,” said Memphis resident Ferra Wilson.

Wilson says the system as it is doesn’t encourage people to get off welfare, and it should be left for people who really need it.

“You got to get out and get a job. You got kids to take care of. You got bills. Other people who need welfare can’t get it,” said Wilson.