Experts in the Field See Need for Reform; One Problem a Strong Economy Hasn’t Solved
After nine straight months of an unemployment rate below 4%, many assume that everyone who wants a job has one. But as Express Employment Professionals sees on a regular basis, there are still many Americans who would like to work but choose not to—because taking a job would actually harm their financial situation.
Welfare programs in America are structured in such a way that they can create a disincentive to work. Express franchise owners witness this on a regular basis, hearing variations of a similar but unfortunate refrain: “I want to work but having a job would actually mean having less money.”
Welfare programs represent a complicated patchwork of federal and state programs with varying qualifications and levels of benefits. But similar effects are witnessed across the country.
As Express experts explain, this has consequences beyond the financial implications. Work provides vital non-monetary benefits including:
- Purpose and confidence that comes from earning a paycheck
- Socializing and a sense of belonging
- Intellectual stimulation and improved mental health
- Satisfaction of making a societal contribution
- Skill development
Dwight Hahn, Express franchise owner in Windsor, Connecticut, says, work “shows responsibility. It is good for self-worth, as well as mental and physical health. It allows people to contribute to society, provide for their families and give people hope and purpose.”
Terri Greeno, Express franchise owner in Crystal Lake, Illinois, adds, “Work brings dignity to life. Work gives purpose and meaning. Work builds character. Work improves health and is inversely correlated to depression.”
With all of this at stake, what is the solution?
Make welfare benefits “a sliding scale,” says Todd Isaacson, Express franchise owner in Boulder, Colorado, “allowing people to work but still get benefits they need.”
Jan Riggins, Express franchise general manager in Fort Worth, Texas, agrees.
“I think a decrease in benefits as a stepping stone when re-entering the workforce would be more beneficial than an either/or situation,” she said.
Welfare programs provide a vital safety net in modern society, especially when helping Americans facing difficult and unexpected circumstances, according to Bill Stoller, CEO of Express.
“It’s hard to blame anyone for making the financial calculation that under the current system they might actually be better off not working,” he said. “But we can’t stop there. Work is too important and opens too many doors of opportunity for us to leave our fellow Americans trapped outside the workforce. Reform is needed to help people reach their full potential.”