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Welfare reform is working

(CITY JOURNAL) — On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released its report on the nation’s income, poverty, and health-insurance coverage for 2018. News that the percentage of Americans with insurance took a troubling stumble—the largest since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010—was the angle that most interested frontpage editors. But one other tree in the Census forest of graphs and tables should have been an eye-catcher: poverty in single-mother households sank to its lowest rate . . . ever. What’s more, the decline took place entirely among black and Hispanic single-mother families.

For those plugged in to debates about welfare reform and child poverty over the past 20-plus years, this is a “Wow!” moment. In 2018, median income for households headed by women with “no spouse present” increased by a robust 5.8 percent. The poverty rates for female-householder black families dropped 2.7 percent, while the rate for Hispanic families plunged 4 percentage points, to 31.1 percent, in 2018. For blacks in female-householder families, the proportion with family incomes less than $25,000 decreased by 4.1 percentage points, while for Hispanics in female-householder families, the proportion dropped by 3 points.

More black and Hispanic women have jobs and are working more hours.

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