A new study conducted by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that income levels of the poorest 20% of female-headed households fell an average of $580 dollars per family from 1995 to 1997, despite widespread economic growth.
The CBPP’s analysis included benefits including food stamps, housing subsidies, and the Earned Income Tax Credit, yet families still had incomes that were below 75% of the poverty line on average. Among the poorest 10% of female-headed households, income declined by an average of $810 dollars from 1995 and 1997, reversing gains those families had achieved in previous years.
CBPP attributes these declines to enactment of the 1996 federal welfare law, as well as to changes in state welfare rules that forced significant declines in the amounts of cash and food assistance provided to families. The report concluded that “too much emphasis has been placed on caseload reduction and insufficient attention paid to income and poverty outcomes.”
Study lead Wendell Primus commented, “It is disturbing that substantial numbers of children and families are sinking more deeply into poverty when we have the strongest economy in decades and when substantial amounts of funds provided to states to assist these families are going unused.” Primus, a former employee of the Dept. of Health and Human Services, resigned in 1996 in protest of President Clinton’s decision to sign the federal welfare bill.