What are public work support programs?

Public work support programs such as Medicaid, SNAP, Energy Assistance, and WIC were created to help low-wage workers meet their basic needs. Tax policies that placed less liability on lower income workers were enacted for similar reasons. These programs were created to encourage workers to take low-wage jobs rather than rely on government programs.


With proper administration, these programs have been successful in supporting households move into economic stability. Likewise, current work support programs, such as those on this site, can provide economic stability for low-income households. However, because of the way the programs are funded and administered, there are often consequences that prohibit economic stability. When small incremental gains in income occur it can cause benefits that cover costs for things like childcare or health care to abruptly disappear and result in a sizable net loss to households.


The Economic Stability Indicator can illustrate some of these consequences, as well as the potential of public programs and tax credits in filling the gap between wages and a "basic needs" budget.