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Removing work disincentives in the social safety net will strengthen upward mobility and the economy

Policymakers at the national level looking for ways to strengthen economic opportunity too often fixate solely on expanding government programs. Instead, they should embrace a simple goal: eliminating barriers faced by people striving to improve their situation. Removing work disincentives in the social safety net is the best place to start.

A clear example of this kind of disincentive is the benefits cliff: a circumstance in which a raise or a new job can trigger a disproportionately large reduction in safety net benefits, making the household worse off.

Aside from the shock to household stability, such experiences can create the impression that accepting work opportunities — such as a job offer, a raise, or working more hours — is not actually worthwhile for a family.

According to the Georgia Center for Opportunity’s benefits cliffs calculator tool, a Utah single mother of two could typically start to see these “cliffs” between $25,000 and $35,000 in annual earnings, or about $12 to $16 per hour.

To read the full article in the Washington Examiner click here

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