Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



Low-wage workers have always faced difficulties earning enough to meet their basic needs in the context of the complex financial tradeoffs between receiving public benefits and taking on any or more employment. However, welfare reform and skyrocketing housing and medical costs have exacerbated these challenges to low income families, policy makers, and the providers and agencies that serve them. Employment – often at low-wages – is imperative for most families and, even with supplementary public benefits, financial independence is not easy to achieve for many working families. Wages are too often too low to meet the high cost of living in the state, many benefits are sometimes difficult to get even when eligible, and eligibility for benefits phase out at relatively low earnings.


A collaboration of the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Center for Economic and Policy Research.



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