Welfare Vs Minimum Wage - Which is Better?

5:52 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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UNDATED -- North Carolina is the 10th largest state in the country in population. First in flight, tops in aviation, research, and agribusiness. But there's another set of statistics for our state. Our unemployment rate is eight-point-nine percent, among the top five highest in the nation. Jobs can be hard to find.

Of the 2.2 million people paid hourly rates, 137,000 earn minimum wage or less. Minimum wage by the way is $7.25 per hour. $7.25 an hour, on a 40 hour work week, adds up to a yearly income of $15,080.

 In some states, that's making too much money to get certain welfare assistance. As investigators at our sister station in Cleveland found out, minimum wage workers say when you do the math-- it's more beneficial to take the assistance than to work.


A study by The Cato Institute found an Ohio mom and two kids getting the full menu of programs, food, cash, medicaid, day care housing could get $28, 700 plus a year. In Ohio, working an hourly job, she'd earn $7.85 an hour minimum wage and she'd earn less than $17,000. One woman said, "You can get food stamps and day care and you try to get a job at McDonalds they want to cut all that off."

So you see the headline of "You Can Make More Money Off of Welfare Than By Putting In 40 Hours".  2 Wants to Know is all about putting things in context. So we wanted to know, is it true here?

We found that its not a blanket truth. There are 7 kinds of assistance in North Carolina, from food stamps to housing to health benefits. If by chance you happened to get ALL of those benefits, then yes, it is possible.

We asked the State Department of Health and Human Services the number of people getting all the benefits. At this point, they haven't been able to come up with that number. 

But, they did tell us 6,300 families in North Carolina are getting what's called Work First benefits. They are not employed-- and on average, the benefit is $214 per month. In North Carolina, eligibility for benefits is based on need, not on employment status. That means there are tens of thousands of working families who get benefits-- like food stamps.

When we hear back from the state on the numbers of people getting benefits, we'll be sure to make them available.

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