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Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors, 21st Report to Congress

Publication Date
Gilbert Crouse

This report provides welfare dependence indicators through 2019 for most indicators and through 2020 for other indicators, reflecting changes that have taken place since enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996. For the purposes of this report, welfare dependence is defined as the proportion of individuals who receive more than half of their total family income in one year from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and/or the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.

The dependency rate peaked in 2010 before declining from 5.3 percent in 2010 to 3.3 percent in 2019. Most families that received benefits in 2019 had members participating in the labor force, either employed or looking for work. Hispanic people receiving benefits were more likely than non-Hispanic White and Black people receiving benefits to live in families with at least one full-time worker. Over this time period, key indicators of economic need showed improvements from 2018 to 2019. This was particularly true for non-White populations, where non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic people with a high school degree or less saw increases in employment and declines unmarried teen births. Importantly, data from the report do not reflect the current economic recession resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Related Products:

Product Type
Report | Report to Congress
Low-Income Populations
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)