Thursday, February 15, 2024

MCPP: Want More Workers? Reform Welfare

Mississippi Center for Public Policy President Douglas Carswell sponsored and authored this post. 

Not enough people in Mississippi work. Out of every 100 working age adults in our state, 46 are not in the labor force.

Nearly half of working age Mississippians are not in formal employment – and they aren’t actively looking for employment either.

At the same time, there are a record number of jobs available. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in October last year there were 80,000 unfilled jobs across the state.

Not only are there lots of jobs available in Mississippi, but according to new research a record number of people are now moving to Mississippi to take up those opportunities. 2022 saw a net inflow of 12,000 (often young) people to our state, coming largely from Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas and Florida.

A combination of labor market deregulation, inward investment and tax cuts seems to be transforming Mississippi for the better. Our state is no longer a place that people leave, but somewhere people move to in search of new opportunities. What can we do to ensure that more people in Mississippi take full advantage of those job opportunities?

It is not enough to merely talk about opportunities. With 80,000 job vacancies right here, right now, there are opportunities to work all around us. The issue is why some folk aren’t taking the opportunities that are there.

Some have suggested that we hire more career counsellors in high schools. I am certain that career counsellors do a wonderful job, but if that is the only policy solution, I suspect labor force participation will remain low.

If we are going to increase workforce participation, we need to ask difficult questions about welfare. Does welfare create disincentives against work?

Mississippi has a population of 2.95 million. Approximately one in five (19 percent) live below the poverty line (calculated as the minimum income needed to get by with the bare essentials.)

The way in which the myriad of assistance programs impacts the half a million plus people below the poverty line matters, and needs to be properly understood if we are to improve workforce participation.

Welfare programs can have unintended consequences, and one of them is the creation of so-called ‘benefit cliffs’. A benefit cliff is what happens when someone loses benefits if their income increases, but the benefits they lose outweigh the additional income gained.

Given the maximum income thresholds allowed, we know, for example, that if someone’s monthly income went from $400 a month to $410 a month, they would no longer qualify for some Temporary Assistance programs.

If your income rose above $1,215 a month, you could lose the right to claim Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). When your income per person goes over $19,392 a year, you may no longer qualify for Medicaid (although the ‘cliff’ cut-off is not always as abrupt as is sometimes supposed).

Take into account the different benefit cliffs, and you could have a powerful range of disincentives.

Even if a person was notionally better off when holding down a 35 hour week job, the time and effort it would take for a relatively modest increase in income might leave some feeling having a job was not worth it.

It has been suggested that benefits do not create a problem of ‘cliffs’, but of straight forward dependency. They point out, for example, that those on food stamps are not those hovering on the edge of the labor market, but full-time welfare dependents. There may be some truth in that, too.

So, what is the solution?

The answer to benefit ‘cliffs’ is not to increase welfare payments in order to remove disincentives, but to institute more stringent work requirements for those on welfare programs.

In Arkansas under Sarah Huckabee Sanders, anyone that fails to accept a suitable job within five days of being offered one, or who fails to show up for job interviews without notice, can now lose their benefits.

If we are serious about increasing workforce participation, we may well need to implement something similar.


Anonymous said...

Up until a couple of years ago the only jobs that were worth anything here are government jobs and healthcare which the average Mississippians don’t qualify for. There were no major private companies hiring or paying worth a damn. Not to mention the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in God knows when. So yes, there has been a massive reliance on government checks, but they’re also hasn’t been any economy Conducive of good industries to encourage a strong workforce. Both are Mississippi‘s fault. Let’s tell both sides of the story.

Anonymous said...

Parents aren't teaching the value of job skills and the importance of self-reliance. It's all about what they can get for free. There are always extenuating circumstances but there are also a lot of lazy-as-fuck people in this state.

Anonymous said...


Plenty of jobs available for a person willing to work. They may be required to show up on time and stay off of there phones. I guess if you are sorry and lazy its easy to blame "the system" but taking assistance from the same system never seems to bother them.

Anonymous said...

12:55 - can confirm - healthcare and government are/were not the only two available industries "worth anything."

Anonymous said...

February 15, 2024 at 12:55 PM, you have posted what you call the other side of the issue. The writer of the article used facts, and figures to present their side. Where are your facts, and figures to support your side?

map maker said...

the entire public educational system teaches the government taking care of people rather then them working. The is the corner stone of the Democratic party.

Anonymous said...

But, 12:55, should we permit people the luxury of not taking a "low paying job" and staying idle? I hear you about better pay. But, as a matter of policy, should we give people the luxury of refusing to work for what their skillset can demand?

Anonymous said...

Doug, 100% agree with the assessment. I would be interested in understanding what a target "healthy" workforce participation rate would be. How much does MS's relatively low cost of living allow for singe-income households, and how does that affect the labor participation rate in relation to states more costly to live in? I am not suggesting that welfare doesn't have the largest affect, just suggesting that there are other factors that I think might be significant as well.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi contains a massive number of able workforce aged slugs-male and female-who don't want to work and never will, regardless of pay.

Anonymous said...

Workforce participation is a metric but does improving it need to be a goal?

If one person in a family brings in enough income so their spouse does not need to work, and they believe for their family or whatever reason that only one person needs to work - what's the problem with that? That unemployed spouse contributes to the number in that measurement of people not in workforce participation. But should it be government policy to make that person work?

I'm not suggesting anyone is arguing that. But if we use workforce participation as a goal, we need to recognize that many non-workers are in families where one worker is able to provide that family enough income.

Anonymous said...

Fact is has less than 35000 jobs posted ! Less than 28,000 are full time. Most of the jobs on Monster and Linkend duplicate those on Indeed. So where are the other 50k jobs.

Anonymous said...

And you think those people being forced from Welfare would be good employees? Uneducated, sick, disabled, mentally challenged, unmotivated, trapped by family circumstances. Sounds perfect for the high income jobs that Mississippi needs. Companies looking to move consider potential employees as resources, and Mississippi does a terrible job creating the right environment and producing and attracting educated people. But, we won't look at that.

Anonymous said...

I read this question in the article: "Does welfare create disincentives against work?"

The answer is an absolute "YES".

Anonymous said...

I'm calling BS on the "80,000 unfilled jobs in Mississippi", I would love to know where that list is?

Anonymous said...

There would be a big change in the work force if there were actually labor laws in Mississippi to protect employees. Years ago people worked hard because they knew that a job well done would be rewarded. Hard work = Success. Things have become so profit driven now that hard work is not rewarded unless you threaten to quit. So many employers try to get everything they can from an employee, pushing them to the limit to see how far they can go before the person quits.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Uncle Lyndon.

Anonymous said...

Most of the welfare dependents here are on SSDI, which is a federal program Mississippi has no control over. It’s hard to get on (there’s an industry of attorneys who help people get approved) so once people get on… they make sure they never come off. There are plenty of charts online that show the rapid growth of SSDI beneficiaries in recent years. I had a person explain to me that they got their child approved for SSDI due to an ADHD diagnosis, and received enough monthly income from that to pay the rent. They were proud of it. I’d met the child previously and she seemed totally normal, certainly not hyper active at all.

Anonymous said...

80,000 unfilled jobs? Doing what? Even in Mississippi many people would accept being unemployed versus becoming part of the "working poor". Sad but true. Even menial jobs in other states pay more than low-level jobs in Mississippi. And so many Mississippians are only qualified for low-level jobs. Hence so many "lazy" Mississippians.

Anonymous said...

I believe I can sum it up much more succinctly:

For people in the category discussed - who are working age and able - cumulative welfare type benefits (all of those discussed) must be markedly - not marginally - less attractive than working for a living.

For instance, if you're living on my dime instead of yours, perhaps you would:
- Not be allowed to raise your own kids, or have kids.
- Not have any phones, computers, TVs, etc.
- Not have your own transportation, since you don't go to work.
- Not be allowed to vote, since you're not paying for what you're voting for.
- Not be allowed to attend or participate in any entertainment or recreational type activities which aren't free.
- Not be allowed to beg for money or any tangible good.

Etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

Here's a real world situation I have watched for decades:

My sibling is in the silver years (mid 50's). Finished High School and completed a 4 year program at a Mississippi College. Has had opportunity after opportunity made available but will not work. Basically, pissed away an entire lifetime out of pure laziness.

So, if the individual has no inner desire to grow and become a better person at some point this person has to be abandoned and the resources set aside for someone else.

There a lot of people in this state who simply are lazy as shit. They are happy with living off of someone else and I don't know how to fix that.

Anonymous said...

Jackson City Council approves outdoor storage closets, which the Mayor calls tiny homes (with a bed, toilet shower?) for homeless, hobos and tramps to inhabit on weed grown West Jackson site. Site will have communal kitchen. The little cubicles are to be "factory built" by prisoners and trucked to West Jackson. The Feds are paying.

1. How will Jackson flush the beggars out of the copses of woods and deserted buildings around NE Jackson to move into these little gulag sheds in West Jackson?
2. At which intersections out there can they solicit anything but bullets?

Anonymous said...

4:31 is the spreading the gospel and the religion that I want to participate in.

Anonymous said...


It must really burn your ass up to know that not only do I qualify for full disability benefits for my crippling autism, I also get medical cannabis. And yes, I vote Democratic!

BTW my therapist has informed Medicaid that due to the bullying I received in school, an Apple Vision Pro will be therapeutic for my anxiety. It’s going to be covered by the taxpayer.

I definitely don’t drive. That part is taken care of as well.

Anonymous said...

1. We encourage retirees to relocate to Mississippi where retirement income is not taxed, yet when they do come, they represent negative data in the labor force participation rate. And so are their spouses in the same age category.

2. 3:38 says we need 'labor laws in Mississippi to protect employees'. Not sure what that means but it sounds real dangerous. I think what he hinted at is guaranteed wage/salary increases - enforced by the government.

3. Our higher education system encourages our children to stay in college for 5-6-7 years in order to prop up the finances of the universities. Then thousands of students represent a negative impact on the labor force participation rate. Upon graduation, they want a one year buffer to relax and design an occupational road-map (or something).

4. We 'teach' generation after generation to subsist on benefits and entitlements, yet when they balk at working, we suggest removing them from the government teat. What do we do 'with' them then? Do we want the Capitol Police Force to go statewide?

5. I too would like to see a list of these jobs - Or at least a breakdown by industrial and occupational type. Without that information, the figure 80k is hoodoo.

6. Mississippi is a welfare state. "I don't need no job. I need my benefits. I need my disability pay. I need my social pay. I need my TANF and SNAP. My doctor says I can't work".

7. Bonus Question: What's the largest industry in Mississippi? The Agriculture Commi-czar says it's agriculture. Some say healthcare. Others say government services. The answer is entitlements.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi needs more fat lazy people to fill up the medical clinics and buffet lines. That’s economic progress in the Sip!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Carswell is "spot on".

Everything he wrote is factual. He just said such in a polite British way.
Our nation's current dilemma is a direct result of President L.B. Johnson's
"social" programs.

We are fortunate to have Douglas Carswell as President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.

For those that may not know, he is a former ...(prominent) ... member of the United Kingdom's Parliament.
It's not every day that a member of the House of Commons moves from London to Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

In Arkansas under Sarah Huckabee Sanders, anyone that fails to accept a suitable job within five days of being offered one, or who fails to show up for job interviews without notice, can now lose their benefits. Wow Why can’t MS encourage this to pass through legislature. Old people have to realize there is no one to supplement what is being STOLEN from Social Security that most of us worked for all of our lives. SS Will become non solvent & dry sooner than people think. At that time it will be too late to cry wolf. Work is honorable according to scripture, US Armed Forces and others. Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

Where's my free stuff?

Anonymous said...

My guess is that there aren’t 15k jobs that are paying more than $10 a hour. Sounds like Missippi needs more migrants in the labor force .

Anonymous said...

If anybody wants a fantastic explanation of this phenomenon that has existed since the founding of the U.S., check this book out:

White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America - Nancy Isenberg

Even the founding fathers were shocked at how many poor whites they saw when traveling through the colony/states who apparently were content with being poor, having children they couldn't provide for and having no intention of improving their station in life through education or trade. They referred to them as the "rubbish" of society, and it was a serious problem even then.

Anonymous said...

How can a Christian state like Mississippi be so lazy when the Bible clearly states to work and take care of yourself and your family, work to serve others and work so you have extra to help others? Lazy Mississippian only work hard to be freeloaders and live off of other taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Turn off the welfare faucet! They will either go to work or move to another state.

Anonymous said...

Delbert the Democrat loves him some welfare!

Anonymous said...

@ 5:55, this is 4:31.

Clearly you didn't read where my original post said "able."

Anonymous said...

Welcome the immigrants at the border. 80k jobs filled within weeks!

Anonymous said...

Mississippi is lucky to have Douglas Carswell

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, through censorship, worships Carswell.

Kingfish said...

Nice to see the comment bullies are back. Time to explain the basics to you. This is a sponsored posts. Most sponsors don't allow comments but some such as Bigger Pie and MCPP do. Comments disagreeing with the posts are approved all day long. Debate is encouraged. However, some think that gives them the right to trash the sponsor. Don't know of any universe where sponsors pay to get trashed. Not going to happen here. Don't like it, well, that's your problem. It's a pretty fair rule but then again, we are talking about bullies.

Some comments weren't approved this week that were actually good ones, sometimes long one, but then the reader would just have to call another commenter an idiot or dumbass. Zap. Some of course want to blame certain ethnic groups for every evil in the world and are surprised those comments don't get approved. Then they whine I am censoring THE TRUTH as they put it.

So you want to trash sponsors on sponsored posts, sorry, not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Is there some way we could get our leaders to propose an exchange of our non working people for those workers from other countries who want to come to our country?
Well, it might have worked a few years ago but now we are importing non workers as fast as they can walk through a hole in the wall and they are costing us a lot more than our own non workers.

Anonymous said...

Read this in a pretty good article:

"Mississippi currently has over 800,000 people on Medicaid — mostly children, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly, by design. The total state and federal cost for the program here is over $7 billion annually. Medicaid Executive Director Drew Snyder testified last week that the state’s portion of the program will balloon in the next two years from $900 million to over $1.45 billion in just two years, before expansion. The state got spoiled by federal supplements during COVID."

"Estimates for how many people would be added to Medicaid under expansion have ranged from 230,000 to over 400,000 in Mississippi. In every state that has expanded, actual enrollment, and the estimated cost of that enrollment, has blown past projections, a fact which Director Snyder acknowledged in his recent testimony. Snyder projected that expansion could add an additional $250 million to the state portion of the program."

"The likelihood of getting a new work requirement approved by CMS at this stage is likely nil and courts have struck those down"

Anonymous said...

Well, lets take a look at Indiana, shall we.

It was one of the first states to jump on Obamacare and governments "offer" to expand Medicaid. 9 years later, well, dang, $1 Billion shortfall. And the expansion, well it only cost taxpayers nearly $5.4 billion in 2023 alone.

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