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Does Welfare Pay More Than Working for Minimum Wage in Mass.?


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Even though it’s just meant to be temporary, Angela Jones can understand why someone receiving welfare, would be tempted to stay on it.

“I used to be on public assistance. It helped out when I needed it, but you’ve got a point. I mean, I don’t make much, but when I was on public assistance I made more, but I feel better now, because I’m working. I work for my money!” Jones says.

A new study by the Cato Institute suggests that Massachusetts is one of 35 states where it pays more to be on welfare, than it does to work an entry level job for minimum wage.

They estimated the value of a welfare package including getting assistance from programs like WIC and SNAP, would average out to be worth more than $50,000 dollars a year.

Broken down to an hourly rate, it comes out to $24.30 an hour.

The state’s minimum wage is $8.00.

“I think that’s really sad if that’s true. I think that if people are trying to make a living that should be rewarded somehow,” said Sarah Holland.

The study claims that because money and benefits received from public assistance are not taxed, they far outweigh the taxed take home earnings of someone in an entry-level job.

In fact, some local politicians are aware of the problem that this could present, and suggest that things like audits might help alleviate it.

“When we did our audit of both Mass. Health and the Department of Transitional Assistance, we found that they weren’t using all the resources to screen out all the residents who could be committing fraud, so my focus is on system integrity,” State Auditor Suzanne Bump stated.

“The biggest problem is minimum wage. It’s really a poverty wage. There’s really little incentive from anyone getting assist. From the state to say, ‘Well, now, I’m going to drop this total, my kids aren’t going to eat, but, I’m going to get a job for $8 an hour,’” adds State Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera

The study also suggests that in order to reduce welfare dependence congress should strengthen welfare work requirements, and remove exemptions, which might help reduce the gap.

Massachusetts ranked third in the country. It’s topped only by Washington D.C., whose welfare package totals nearly $51,000, and Hawaii’s, which totals more than $60,000.

Connecticut ranks number 4 at $44,000.

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