The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, recently released data reporting the average number of residents in each of the 50 states who over the course of the 2014 calendar year were dependent on cash payments from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to get by.
As they consistently have done in the past, the latest ACF data for the 50 states show that residents of states lacking Right to Work protections for employees are far more likely to rely on money from the TANF than are residents of states where the Right to Work is protected by law. (See the first link below to review the data for yourself.)
To be precise, an average of 12.5 per 1000 residents of forced-unionism states were TANF recipients in 2014, compared to an average of just 5.0 per 1000 residents of Right to Work states. Twelve of the 15 states with the highest TANF dependency ratios lack Right to Work laws, while nine of the 12 states with the smallest share of residents receiving TANF payments are Right to Work states.
TANF dependency is far lower on average in Right to Work states for two basic reasons. First, poverty as gauged by the federal government’s supplemental poverty measure (SPM), which takes regional cost-of-living differences into account, is significantly lower in Right to Work states than in forced-unionism states, once differences in the age, racial, and educational-attainment composition of each state are taken into consideration. (See the second link below for more information.)
Second, members of households in Right to Work states that technically fit the SPM definition of “poor” are clearly far more apt to believe that they can improve their circumstances without taking cash from the federal government than are their counterparts in the rest of the country. Consequently, residents of Right to Work states who legally qualify for TANF support very frequently opt not to request it.