Magazine article State Legislatures

Manpower Report Finds Welfare Reform Working in Oregon

Magazine article State Legislatures

Manpower Report Finds Welfare Reform Working in Oregon

Article excerpt

Where have they gone? How are they coping? Are they working? Those are the questions facing decision makers after the rhetoric cools on new state and federal welfare reforms that take people off the dole after a specified amount of time.

According to the state that was one of the first to retool its welfare system, welfare-to-work seems to be working. At least in Portland, Ore.

There, more people are coming off welfare, finding relatively good jobs and keeping them, according to a Manpower Demonstration Research Corp. study released in late June. The study compares participants in the new work-focused program with those in the traditional one. Analysts can focus on the effect of the specific requirements and services separately from other factors, such as the strong economy. This approach gives strong evidence that Oregon's reforms have worked.

The state began its efforts in 1993, well ahead of the 1996 federal reforms. Like other states, Oregon emphasized getting recipients into jobs - increasing work requirements and support services. There's a subtle difference in the Oregon program. The state has stressed that while recipients would ultimately be required to leave the welfare rolls and find work, those who could not find jobs right away could get six to nine months instruction in such basics as job and motivational training, basic education, drug and alcohol treatment, and subsidized work programs.

Oregon also encouraged recipients to wait for good, full-time jobs that paid above minimum wage and offered such benefits as health insurance, instead of taking any job they could find. …

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