Welfare rolls declined after Temporary Assistance for Needy Families became law in 1996, and there was widespread consensus that its reforms were a bipartisan success story. But the onslaught of the Great Recession exposed serious flaws in the law. This memo describes a two-part solution based on experience and evidence.
Even in good economic times, workers with limited education may need help getting or regaining a foothold in the job market. Effective career training programs exist. Approaches that target in-demand industries and closely involve employers can get results, benefiting high school students, adults without diplomas, and long-term unemployed workers.
Subsidized employment programs use public funds to create jobs for the unemployed. This two-page memo describes how they can provide short-term income support to individuals with serious barriers to employment or to broader groups during poor economic times — while having positive effects on reducing recidivism, increasing child support payments, or reducing reliance on welfare.