Most Arizonans on Welfare Failing to Find Work

Goldwater Institute
News Release

PHOENIX–Most Arizona families that receive welfare assistance have no one in the home working or training for a full-time job despite a federal mandate to do so, according to a new report from the Goldwater Institute.

In 1996, Congress passed a series of reforms commonly known as welfare-to-work, which reduced the number of people nationwide receiving direct welfare benefits from 4.4 million to 1.7 million by 2007. Welfare-to-work required states to motivate people on welfare to find at least part-time work or to enter job training to prepare for a new career.

Initially, Arizona had success with welfare-to-work. But once the state reduced its welfare enrollment by half, the federal government no longer held Arizona accountable for additional progress. In 2007, 9,662 Arizona families receiving welfare had at least one adult in the house who could work, but didn’t put in a single hour during the week. That made up 60 percent of all work-eligible welfare families.

In Making Welfare Work: Reforming Arizona’s Welfare System to Help Families and Save Money, Katherine K. Bradley, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, explains that other states continue to encourage welfare recipients to find work or job training with additional restrictions that go beyond the federal rules. “Arizona should consider reforms that would move more families into jobs and reduce the current welfare caseload in order to improve citizens’ independence and save millions of taxpayer dollars,” Ms. Bradley says.

Ms. Bradley suggests several steps that Arizona could take to move more people off of welfare, including:

· Set higher targets for getting welfare recipients into jobs or training. Hold staff at Department of Economic Security accountable for reaching those benchmarks.
· Require able-bodied recipients to immediately begin a four-week job search program. Recipients should report daily to a training site and log at least 30 hours a week of job search and training activity.
· Deny an entire welfare check the first time someone fails to report for work or job training.
· Require all parents of children receiving welfare payments to work. Illegal immigrants aren’t eligible for TANF checks, but their U.S.-born children are. U.S. citizens and immigrants alike should be required to work to support their children.
· Rely on private employers and community groups to manage work training and job placement.

Such requirements allowed Georgia to increase its work participation rate from 11 percent to 65 percent in three years, and Texas reduced its welfare enrollment by nearly half between 2003 and 2006.

Read Making Welfare Work: Reforming Arizona’s Welfare System to Help Families and Save Money online or call (602) 462-5000 to have a copy mailed to you.

The Goldwater Institute is an independent government watchdog supported by people who are committed to expanding free enterprise and liberty.


  1. Iris Lynch says

    How can we require illegal aliens to break the laws of Arizona and find a job? The e-verify program should keep them unemployable.

  2. Yeah, right. says

    Gee, if we had more jobs available, more folks might find work.

    At 9.5% unemployment, jobs are not going begging, especially jobs that are suitable for folks going off of welfare.

    Might as well extend welfare benefits until unemployment drops, but that would be reasonable. Reasonable, something the ideologues just can’t do.

  3. Ah.
    Could you be a sport and rephrase that, just so I’m sure I didn’t misunderstand what I just read?

  4. Stephen Kohut says

    Why work when you can stay at home and collect those Obamabucks? Oh, that’s right. we the tax payers and our Chinese lenders have to pay for those Obamabucks. Knew there was a catch. How hard would you look for work if there was no government dole to buy beer and bread? A whole lot harder than those that have been collecting for almost 2 years now.

  5. All the stats in this study are from 2007 when unemployement was under 4%….

  6. The second time I arrived in Arizona, it was 1982 and unemployment was over 11% in the state.
    I had a new job and suitable enough living quarters within 48 hours of arriving in state.

    Got a second-hand motorcycle and a field job at a desert landscaping nursery and most of my co-workers spoke only Spanish.

    So, work can be had even in tougher times, provided people are willing to work. There were people on welfare in AZ before I arrived, on welfare while I was inspecting the Want Ads, which were about half a page in the AZ Republic, and they were still on welfare while I was out in the sun loading by hand thousands of one-gallon planted pots into tractor trailers with my new field buddies.

    Welfare was meant for good, meant to to be short, but long-term has a corrosive effect on personal initiative and personal responsibility.

  7. PCbutnotPC says

    Wait, there’s a solution – Call PhIl Gordon Govt. International Employment $ervices (PiGGIES),

    Phil and his highly competent spend thrift staff at PiGGIES will move their city budget around to find you a job in water works, trash collection or airport security.

    If that does not work out, there’s always the Light Rail SWAT team, protecting us daily from people forgetting to swipe their fare cards on the Phoenix Light Rail Honor System – the same system that brought you City North, Chief Jack Harris double dipping, and Union Fireguys with 12% raises in less than two years (not to mention a retention bonus program to help encourage you not to leave your city job during 10% unemployment and seek food stamps elsewhere).

    Problem solved.

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