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Senate Committee Examines Welfare and Poverty

On October 29, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing, “Welfare and Poverty in America.

Dr. Pamela Loprest, labor economist and senior fellow, Income and Benefits Policy Center, Urban Institute, said, “Research by my colleagues interviewing poor single disconnected mothers finds that some mothers lack information about TANF or have misinformation…If these mothers could find jobs and overcome challenges to keeping those jobs, their circumstances would no doubt be improved. The vast majority of poor disconnected single mothers in the US are without cash income (either earnings or public benefits) because they lost a job. Many of them have worked in the past and work sporadically; however, a central difficulty for these mothers is finding and sustaining work. Reasons for their difficulties include lack of access to affordable child care and to reliable transportation. Disproportionate shares of these mothers suffer from physical and mental illness, sometimes exacerbated by the periods spent struggling without earnings or cash assistance.” Dr. Loprest continued, “The struggles of these poor single mothers are, in some sense, the struggles of all poor families, including low-wage workers and the long-term unemployed. These mothers are simply those who are on the losing end of some of these struggles: Those who couldn’t make child care arrangements work, who lost a job due to unreliable transportation or getting sick and having no paid leave, or who were denied or ran out of unemployment benefits.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Aretha J. Jackson, disabled veteran and TANF recipient;
  • H. Luke Shaefer, associate professor and co-author of “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America,” University of Michigan School of Social Work and the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and
  • Jon Pierpont, executive director, Utah Department of Workforce Services, Salt Lake City, UT.



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