Straining the Safety Net

July 31, 2009 • Volume 19, Issue 27
Is joblessness overwhelming aid programs?
By Peter Katel


Julie Morris with
		  daughter at Family Gateway homeless shelter in
		  Dallas. (Getty Images/John Moore)
Julie Morris, with daughter Hailey, moved to the Family Gateway homeless shelter in Dallas in May with her three daughters and husband after he was laid off from his construction job. (Getty Images/John Moore)

As unemployment keeps mounting, millions more Americans are being forced to rely on a network of federal and state programs to meet their basic needs. The added pressure on the so-called safety net has prompted increases in unemployment insurance payments and expanded food-stamp and welfare caseloads, authorized under this year's $787 billion stimulus package. Budget crises, however, are forcing some states to cut back on safety-net programs, including health care and meals for disadvantaged children. At the same time critics say welfare reforms enacted in 1996 requiring aid recipients to work don't mesh with the reality of today's job shortage. But supporters of the reforms say the extra spending on benefits shows the system is working. With employment growth unlikely any time soon, a renewed debate on government responsibility to the disadvantaged is gathering force.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mar. 06, 2020  Universal Basic Income
Mar. 18, 2016  The Gig Economy
Mar. 06, 2012  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 31, 2009  Straining the Safety Net
Apr. 10, 2009  Business Bankruptcy
Mar. 13, 2009  Vanishing Jobs
Apr. 25, 2003  Unemployment Benefits
Jan. 21, 1994  Worker Retraining
Sep. 09, 1988  Help Wanted: Why Jobs Are Hard to Fill
Mar. 18, 1983  The Youth Unemployment Puzzle
Dec. 24, 1982  Federal Jobs Programs
May 28, 1982  America's Employment Outlook
Jun. 27, 1980  Unemployment Compensation
Oct. 14, 1977  Youth Unemployment
Jul. 11, 1975  Underemployment in America
Dec. 16, 1970  Unemployment in Recessions
Mar. 05, 1965  Unemployment Benefits in Times of Prosperity
Apr. 03, 1964  Overtime Pay Rates and Unemployment
Feb. 01, 1961  Unemployment and New Jobs
Jan. 07, 1959  Lag in Employment
Apr. 16, 1958  Emergency Jobless Aid
May 16, 1956  Lay-Off Pay Plans
Nov. 12, 1953  Jobless Compensation in Boom and Recession
Feb. 25, 1949  Defenses Against Unemployment
Jul. 30, 1945  Full Employment
Nov. 25, 1940  Unemployment Compensation
Jul. 10, 1939  Problem of the Migrant Unemployed
May 19, 1936  Unemployment and Recovery
Sep. 02, 1931  Public Employment Exchanges
Aug. 19, 1929  The Stabilization of Employment
Feb. 21, 1928  The Employment Situation in the United States
Jan. 23, 1926  Unemployment Insurance in the United States
Unemployment and Employment Programs