Government safety net programs aim to protect families during tough times—before they fall into poverty. But rising unemployment, foreclosures, and economic distress are putting pressure on a system already in need of updates and repairs.
Urban Institute experts, building on decades of welfare reform research, evaluated public safety nets and proposed new initiatives to bolster work supports and help families gain a stable financial footing. Read more.
This study analyzes whether and how the event of a job loss in families with children changes family arrangements. Comparing outcomes for children whose parents become unemployed with children whose parents do not, we find a positive relationship between a parent’s job loss and destabilizing changes in family arrangements in subsequent months for children initially living with married parents, a single mother, or a mother cohabiting with a partner. Among single mothers, these negative consequences are concentrated among those with no high school degree.
The Welfare Rules Databook provides tables containing key Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies for each state as of July 2013, as well as longitudinal tables describing selected state policies from 1996 through 2013. The tables are based on the information in the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a publicly available, online database tracking state cash assistance policies over time and across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Databook summarizes a subset of the information in the WRD. Users interested in a greater level of detail are encouraged to use the full database, available at http://anfdata.urban.org/wrd.
The minimum wage establishes a lower bound on what employers must pay their workers. The federal minimum wage is currently set at $7.25 an hour, but 22 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have established minimum wages above the federal minimum. Today, DC’s minimum wage is set one dollar higher than the federal minimum ($8.25), while the minimum wage in the neighboring jurisdictions of Maryland and Virginia use the federal minimum wage. However, DC and two neighboring counties in Maryland (Prince George’s County and Montgomery County) have passed legislation raising their minimum wages to $11.50 an hour by 2016 and 2017, respectively. This report examines the potential effects of raising DC’s minimum wage on DC workers, their families, and on the government programs that serve them.
Over the next two years, the minimum wage in DC will increase in stages, ultimately reaching $11.50 in July 2016, and thereafter DC’s minimum wage will increase with inflation. Based on historical patterns for the DC metro area and an analysis of workers in the food service industry nationwide, we find little evidence that even a substantial increase in minimum wages in DC would result in lower employment. Our estimates of the relationship are imprecise, however, and we cannot rule out modest negative impacts.