The Work Versus Welfare Trade-Off: An Analysis of the Total Level of Welfare Benefits by State

by Michael D. Tanner,  CATO Institute

The value of the full package of welfare benefits for a typical recipient in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia exceeds the poverty level. Because welfare benefits are tax-free, their dollar value is often greater than the amount of take-home income a worker would have left after paying taxes on an equivalent pretax income.

  • In 40 states welfare pays more than an $8.00 an hour job. In 17 states the welfare package is more generous than a $10.00 an hour job.
  • In Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New York, and Rhode Island welfare pays more than a $12.00 an hour job—or two and a half times the minimum wage.
  • In nine states welfare pays more than the average first-year salary for a teacher. In 29 states it pays more than the average starting salary for a secretary. And in the six most generous states it pays more than the entry-level salary for a computer programmer.  Read the entire story. 

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