Reinstating work requirements for food stamp recipients in Mississippi reduced enrollment and led to higher wages among those weaned off government dependency, finds a new study released on Friday from the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).
The study from the Florida-based think tank found that after Mississippi reinstated work requirements for food stamps for able-bodied, childless adult recipients, the program saw a 72 percent decline in recipients among this group, saving Mississippi taxpayers almost $93 million each year after the measures were put in place in 2016.
The authors also found that those who benefited from the dignity of working instead of taking welfare flourished across 716 different industries and saw wages double in just one year off of government assistance.
“Work requirements have led to fewer welfare checks, more paychecks, and a more sustainable program for Mississippians that truly need it,” said the FGA research director Nic Horton, who helped write the report. “Mississippi is showing the way for other states looking to boost their local economies and help able-bodied adults trapped in dependency.”
Federal regulations mandate work-requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) aged 18-49 to either work, train, or volunteer a minimum 20 hours a week to receive food stamps. But the Obama administration waived this rule, and saw a dramatic increase in federal welfare recipients.
Currently, 22 states in addition to Guam and Washington D.C. follow the minimum standards spelled out in federal statute for food stamp recipients. Twenty-eight states have extended the disqualification periods for those who violate the work requirements, forcing beneficiaries to wait longer to go back on the program after being found in violation of the rule.
While federal law requires states to implement work requirements, many have obtained waivers after the initial 1996 law was passed, allowing able-bodied people to reap benefits without working. Mississippi has some of the strictest regulations governing food stamp benefits in the country, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures. Other states, include Michigan, Illinois, and Missouri, have also moved in Mississippi’s direction to enact stricter work requirements for food stamps.