Former Clinton Administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich is stumped:
I 'm baffled by the way the press has covered the tenth anniversary (this week) of Bill Clinton's welfare reform -- full of praise for a policy that has led to more poverty in America among single mothers and their children than before.
Let us help; from Brookings we can produce some facts:
From 1993 to 2000 the portion of single mothers who were employed grew from 58 percent to nearly 75 percent...employment among never-married mothers, most of whom join the welfare ranks within a year or two of giving birth, grew from 44 percent to 66 percent. Before [the Welfare Reform Act] 1996 never-married mothers were the ones most likely to be school dropouts, to go on welfare, and to stay on welfare for a decade or more. Yet their employment over this period grew by 50%. Employment changes of this magnitude over such a short period for an entire demographic group are unprecedented in Census Bureau records.
[all emphases the FLUBA's]
But, faux economists might ask, how about their economic well-being:
Census Bureau data for female headed families in the bottom 40 percent of the income distribution...show that...earnings had leaped by an astounding 136 percent....
...with earnings and EITC payments leading the way, the total income of these low-income families increased by about 25 percent [in real terms]. Even after the recession of 2001, earnings remained above their 1993 level. The predictions of doom turned out to be wrong.
Anyone remember all the critics predicting that Welfare Reform would throw over one million children into poverty?
...by 2000 the poverty rate of black children and of children in female-headed families was the lowest it had ever been. The percentage of families in deep poverty, defined as half the poverty level...also declined until 2000, falling about 35% during the period. Even after four consecutive years of increasing child poverty [following the recession of 2001] poverty was still 20 percent below it 1993 peak.
Even the very bottom (by income) 10% of single mothers who show a decrease in income after 1996, show increased consumption at the same time.
Even Christopher Jencks, a well known critic of the 1996 law, found that:
...single mothers had fewer problems related to food in 2001 than in 1995, the last year before welfare reform. ...that, although the number of low-income mothers receiving welfare between 1995 and 1999 fell from 58 percent to 29 percent, food related problems dropped dramatically.
The question now on the table being; just where did Reich get the idea that Welfare Reform was 'a policy that has led to more poverty in America among single mothers and their children than before'?