Work and Public Benefits

Many income and work support programs include a component aimed to increase the employment and earnings of participants. For example, in the most recent year, states reported spending $557 million of TANF and related state spending on employment and training programs.  

CLASP advocates for high-quality employment programs for recipients of work support programs, informed by understanding of both the labor market and the circumstances of recipients, and provides technical assistance to states and localities on how to operate such programs within the framework of the federal programs. CLASP opposes work requirements with harsh sanctions that act as a barrier to access to benefits.

Recently renewed efforts to impose work requirements to receive public benefits reflect a profound misunderstanding of the realities of low-wage jobs. Strong evidence shows that work requirements frequently lead to a loss of benefits, which only makes it harder to work. Further, there is little evidence that work requirements increase employment outcomes or reduce poverty. Finally, work requirements create an unnecessary burden for workers and state governments.

Webinar: Work Requirements Don’t Work
Elizabeth Lower-Basch presented on how work requirements don’t work for a webinar hosted by the Coalition on Human Needs and Heartland Alliance in March 2018. 

Trump’s Budget Built on Myth, Attacks Low-Income People
The Trump Administration’s 2019 budget proposal is yet another gut-punch to low-income individuals and families. The budget includes devastating cuts to core benefit programs that would destabilize millions of lives and unravel our nation’s safety net. Many of its proposals pretend to promote work and self-sufficiency; in reality, they’re designed to kick millions of people off food, health care, and housing assistance.

Counterproductive Work Requirements in Senate Budget Harm Low-Income People
The Senate Budget Committee passed a budget resolution on October 5 that the full Senate will consider after its return from recess on October 16. This proposal, as well as others from President Trump and the U.S. House of Representatives, would be deeply damaging to poor and low-income people by sacrificing critical revenue to subsidize more benefits for the wealthy. 

Doubling Down: How Work Requirements in Public Benefit Programs Hurt Low-Wage Workers 
Recently renewed efforts to impose work requirements as a condition of receipt for public benefits programs reflect a profound misunderstanding of the realities of low-wage jobs.

Volatile Job Schedules and Access to Public Benefits 
When combined with low wages and low income, workers with volatile schedules find themselves in need of income support from public benefits programs. However, the scheduling issues driving their need for public benefits often create barriers to access.

TANF 101: Work Participation Rate 
This brief, part of the TANF 101 series, describes the work participation rate which services as the only measure of performance states under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

For more information, visit the TANF Education and Training Resources Page

SNAP and Work 
This fact sheet highlights the nature of low-wage work, SNAP’s role in our communities, and key facts about existing SNAP work requirements.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) funds can be used to support a variety of education, training, employment, and related services for SNAP recipients.

SNAP Works: SNAP Work Requirements and Time Limits
Most SNAP recipients are either already working or are not expected to work because they: are children or senior citizens; have a disability; care for a family member who is disabled; or care for a child under six years old while another household member is working. However, SNAP does have several provisions designed to encourage individuals who are not working to enter the workforce.

For more information, visit the SNAP Employment and Training Resources Page

Medicaid Works: No Work Requirement Necessary 
Work requirements would act as a barrier to health coverage to significant numbers of Medicaid recipients and would drive up administrative costs.

The Evidence Builds: Access to Medicaid Helps People Work 
Health insurance is a key work support and tool that provides working-age adults with access to care that helps them get and keep a job.

Adding Stumbling Blocks in the Path to Health Care: New State Option in House Bill Promotes neither Health nor Work 
The new version of the AHCA introduces a provision that would allow states to institute “work requirements” as a condition of Medicaid receipt.

For all CLASP publications related to this topic, visit