Senior Research Analyst
As policymakers debate proposals to take food assistance or health coverage away from beneficiaries who don’t work a set number of hours or participate in qualifying work activities, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) paper shows why such proposals ignore the realities of the low-wage labor market and would do little to boost employment. These proposals, included in state Medicaid waivers and the SNAP provisions of the House-passed farm bill, would harm participants, including many workers, the paper explains.
The paper provides evidence that key assumptions underlying work requirements — including that adult participants in means-tested programs such as SNAP or Medicaid all can find stable employment — don’t match the reality:
Work requirement proposals won’t likely increase employment, as most participants in these programs are already working and those who aren’t often face barriers to work. And these policies could harm many workers, such as those who lose benefits when they are temporarily out of work or working fewer hours than they want due to employer decisions.