Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Human Resources of the Committee on Ways and Means, today announced that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing on subsidized jobs programs and their effectiveness in helping families escape poverty. The hearing will take place at 2:00 pm on Wednesday, July 30, in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building.
In view of the limited time available to hear from witnesses, oral testimony at this hearing will be from invited witnesses only. Witnesses will include individuals with experience administering subsidized employment programs and experts who have studied the effectiveness of these programs. However, any individual or organization not scheduled for an oral appearance may submit a written statement for consideration by the Committee and for inclusion in the printed record of the hearing.
Helping people find full-time jobs is the best way to reduce poverty. Over 97 percent of individuals age 18-64 who work full-time have earnings that place them above the poverty line, while almost one-third of individuals in that age range who do not work are in poverty. Working full-time also helps individuals move up the economic ladder. Of households in the bottom 20 percent of the earnings distribution, fewer than one in five had a household member working full-time, and more than 60 percent included no one who was working. Households in the top 20 percent of earners had on average two household members working, in almost all cases full time.
The major accomplishment of the 1996 welfare reforms was to help more low-income families and individuals find jobs, so they could escape poverty and dependence on government benefits and move up the economic ladder. Since the work-based welfare reforms were enacted, the employment rate of adults receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) welfare benefits has more than doubled. Child poverty rates fell dramatically in the years immediately after welfare reform, while welfare caseloads declined by 60 percent through June 2013. In addition to expecting more welfare recipients to work and prepare for work, welfare reform provided more flexibility for States to support work by providing child care benefits, transportation assistance, and other work supports.
While welfare reform moved many low-income families into work, more can be done to help welfare recipients work and escape poverty. States now report spending only a small share of their TANF funding – 6 percent in FY 2013 – on activities designed to get welfare recipients jobs. Although States are required to engage 50 percent of welfare recipients in work or work-related activities, 22 States face effectively no such requirement because of loopholes in the law. Further, in the most recent State data on work performed by welfare recipients (FY 2011), States reported that almost 60 percent of adults performed no hours of work or work-related activities, such as education or training.
A number of States have taken steps to more quickly move welfare recipients into the workforce, in some cases providing wage subsidies to employers to hire these individuals so they can earn a paycheck instead of receiving welfare. State approaches to subsidizing employment have been varied, including by the type of recipient placed in subsidized jobs, whether the placement is in the public or private sector, the length of the subsidy, and the amount of the subsidy. Specific Federal funding for this purpose was provided under the 2009 economic stimulus law (P.L. 111-5), under which $1.3 billion was spent on subsidized jobs programs between 2009 and 2010. Placing welfare recipients in subsidized jobs can help these individuals gain skills that will help them find and maintain full-time employment. However, because research on the long-term impacts of subsidized jobs is mixed, it is important to review the structure of different subsidized jobs programs to determine which features appear most likely to make these programs successful.
In announcing the hearing, Chairman Reichert stated, “Our nation’s welfare programs should be focused on one thing – helping people in need find work, so they can escape poverty and move up the economic ladder. The 1996 welfare reforms achieved this goal by requiring States to get welfare recipients working or preparing for work. One of the ways States have done so is by connecting recipients quickly with employers, sometimes by subsidizing their wages. Welfare reauthorization is on hold as the Administration continues to insist – despite 15 years of TANF law and precedent to the contrary – that it can waive the critical TANF work requirements. So now is a good time for us to review how these subsidized job programs are working. I look forward to hearing more about these State efforts so we can improve our nation’s welfare system and move more people out of poverty.”
FOCUS OF THE HEARING:
This hearing will focus on State subsidized jobs programs designed to move individuals from welfare to work, including what research reveals about the impact of such programs on employment and earnings.
DETAILS FOR SUBMISSION OF WRITTEN COMMENTS:
Please Note: Any person(s) and/or organization(s) wishing to submit for the hearing record must follow the appropriate link on the hearing page of the Committee website and complete the informational forms. From the Committee homepage, https://waysandmeans.house.gov, select “Hearings.” Select the hearing for which you would like to submit, and click on the link entitled, “Please click here to submit a statement or letter for the record.” Once you have followed the online instructions, submit all requested information. Attach your submission as a Word document, in compliance with the formatting requirements listed below, by August 13, 2014. Finally, please note that due to the change in House mail policy, the U.S. Capitol Police will refuse sealed-package deliveries to all House Office Buildings. For questions, or if you encounter technical problems, please call (202) 225-1721 or (202) 225-3625.
The Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record. As always, submissions will be included in the record according to the discretion of the Committee. The Committee will not alter the content of your submission, but we reserve the right to format it according to our guidelines. Any submission provided to the Committee by a witness, any supplementary materials submitted for the printed record, and any written comments in response to a request for written comments must conform to the guidelines listed below. Any submission or supplementary item not in compliance with these guidelines will not be printed, but will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions and supplementary materials must be provided in Word format and MUST NOT exceed a total of 10 pages, including attachments. Witnesses and submitters are advised that the Committee relies on electronic submissions for printing the official hearing record.
- Copies of whole documents submitted as exhibit material will not be accepted for printing. Instead, exhibit material should be referenced and quoted or paraphrased. All exhibit material not meeting these specifications will be maintained in the Committee files for review and use by the Committee.
- All submissions must include a list of all clients, persons, and/or organizations on whose behalf the witness appears. A supplemental sheet must accompany each submission listing the name, company, address, telephone, and fax numbers of each witness.
The Committee seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202-225-1721 or 202-226-3411 TTD/TTY in advance of the event (four business days notice is requested). Questions with regard to special accommodation needs in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats) may be directed to the Committee as noted above.
Note: All Committee advisories and news releases are available online at http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/.