Economists question work requirements for SNAP, Medicaid |

Economists question work requirements for SNAP, Medicaid

Adults who participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid are likely to work, but they face a volatile labor market that would make it difficult for them to meet work requirements proposed for those programs, according to a study released this week by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Workers faced a relatively volatile labor market, and one years success did not always carry over to the next,” said the report, which was written by two economists.

The report also found that when these adults worked substantially in one year, on average their hours, weeks worked, and total income fell in the following year.

The House farm bill, passed with only Republican votes, requires that adult SNAP beneficiaries work 20 hours per week or be in a job training program in order to keep their benefits.

In a blog post, Ed Dolan, a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center, a think tank, questioned whether work requirements are a good idea.

“If the objective is true self-sufficiency, work requirements are unlikely to be effective,” Dolan wrote. “However, if the objective, instead, is simply to cut in-kind welfare rolls, work requirements hold out greater prospects for success.”

The report and the blog post are likely to be used to counter arguments in a report released by the White House Council of Economic Advisers favoring work requirements in noncash welfare programs.

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