The current welfare system provides such a high level of benefits that it acts as a disincen- tive for work. Welfare currently pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, even after accounting for the Earned Income Tax Credit, and in 13 states it pays more than $15 per hour. If Congress and state legislatures are serious about reducing welfare dependence and reward- ing work, they should consider strengthening welfare work requirements, removing exemp- tions, and narrowing the definition of work. Moreover, states should consider ways to shrink the gap between the value of welfare and work by reducing current benefit levels and tighten- ing eligibility requirements.
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