Michigan Imposes Welfare Work Requirement

Empty food banks indicate to some that Michigan may be overestimating the extent to its recovery.

Empty food banks indicate to some that Michigan may be overestimating the extent to its recovery.

By Free Radical

Starting on October 1, Michigan residents will have to work or volunteer to continue to receive food stamps. The law affects more than 67,000 people aged 18-49 who have no children. They will have to log 20 hours at a job or volunteer site.

The requirement is a revision of an older law that also made work mandatory to receive food assistance. However that provision was waived in 2002 due to high unemployment which at one point neared 14 percent. However, Michigan’s unemployment rate is now 4 percent, thus prompting the state to successfully appeal to federal regulators to reimpose the work requirement.

Residents will have a three month grace period to find employment or volunteer work.

Opponents of the measure argue that despite reports of a recovered economy, maladies such as income inequality still plague Michigan and much of the country. And any job that only allows residents to work 20 hours per week will not catapult them out of poverty.

Maria Kramer-Baker, president of the National Welfare Rights Union, expressed “You have to stretch all those little pennies to be able to make it out the month. To us, it represents slave labor. You’ve got to have food, clothing and shelter — and the main thing is food.”

The Detroit Free-Press has noted several local food banks still have trouble keeping up with demand. This is a sign that Michigan may be overestimating the breadth of the local and national economic recovery.

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