The value of the full package of welfare benefits for a typical recipient in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia exceeds the poverty level. Because welfare benefits are tax-free, their dollar value is often greater than the amount of take-home income a worker would have left after paying taxes on an equivalent pretax income.
- In 40 states welfare pays more than an $8.00 an hour job. In 17 states the welfare package is more generous than a $10.00 an hour job.
- In Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New York, and Rhode Island welfare pays more than a $12.00 an hour job—or two and a half times the minimum wage.
- In nine states welfare pays more than the average first-year salary for a teacher. In 29 states it pays more than the average starting salary for a secretary. And in the six most generous states it pays more than the entry-level salary for a computer programmer.
- Welfare benefits are especially generous in large cities. Welfare provides the equivalent of an hourly pretax wage of $14.75 in New York City, $12.45 in Philadelphia, $11.35 in Baltimore, and $10.90 in Detroit. For the hard-core welfare recipient, the value of the full range of welfare benefits substantially exceeds the amount the recipient could earn in an entry-level job. As a result, recipients are likely to choose welfare over work, thus increasing long-term dependence.