To Work or Not to Work



I recently heard an incredibly interesting term; Upward Mobility. I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but I’ve never had an opportunity to actually use it. I read it in an online article entitled Poverty Myth: You can live well on government benefits. In the article, prepared by ATD Fourth World USA, it mentions that, “(Welfare) benefits do not support upward mobility”. I understood completely what that meant.

In 1997, I moved my family from Texas to Arizona with a newborn, a 3 year old, and my wife in tow. We left just about the time we were to be called to receive housing benefits. We were slated to choose our dwelling among the several housing projects in the city. At the time, I was making $5.50 an hour as a phone operator for MCI. When my wife told me we were next in line for housing benefits, my brain began churning. I knew, for starters, that if I was to ever increase my income, the housing benefits would decrease. If I was ever to significantly increase my income, those same housing benefits would have dwindled down to nothing and we would be living in a less than favorable environment. Then I thought, what if the thought of losing our housing benefits prevented me from ever striving to increase my economic standing?

No doubt that our welfare benefits would suffer as well. Wouldn’t it just be easier to live off welfare and not have to worry about the bare necessities?

The minute my mind turned into a cyclone of  “what if’s” was the minute I decided to pull our family out of the rut and pursue bigger and better things. Arizona seemed like the perfect opportunity for better work, better pay, and a positive outlook for a brighter future. We packed up the kids into our 1989 Dodge Dynasty and hit the road with $350 to our names. We made a go of it and since then, we improved our economic standing. Welfare was simply a thing of the past. At the time, however, we were grateful to have had the assistance.


Is Receiving Welfare or Unemployment Benefits Better than Having to Work?


While I could share welfare national statistics according to several reputable websites online, I feel I would do the reader justice by sharing information that I am personally privy to. Without identifying the Texas family, here is a complete breakdown of their welfare benefits per month:


Single Parent with a Family of 4 Dependents


  • Housing Allowance $680
  • Food Benefits $600
  • WIC (Woman with Infant Children) $200 (Receivable only in baby formula, milk, fruit,                                                                                  cereal, and cheese purchases)


  • Total Benefits             $1480 Per Month



If we calculate this monthly income by 160 hours, which represent 40 hours per week of work, this mother would have to earn $9.25 an hour to equal her current welfare benefits. This is an extremely achievable goal. In the current working environment, some companies have been preparing for an eventual increase in the federal minimum wage and have already begun offering $12 an hour as a starting wage.


The fear of giving up welfare benefits is a very real predicament for a significant percentage of the American population, however, being stuck in living below the poverty line for a generation should be enough incentive to break out of that mold and aim for a better quality of life. This is achievable by working hard, seeking promotions and salary increases, and getting  the “piece of the pie” every occupant of this great country of ours so richly deserves.


Finding gainful employment can be quite a chore, but there are companies out there who help you get your foot in the door in almost any industry imaginable. Companies like, RedCap Staffing, who have offices in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Maine,  offer jobs in several capacities. This particular company offers the incentive of Working Today, Getting Paid Tomorrow, and is a great place to get started.


To visit the RedCaps Job Search Page, click HERE and find out what they have to offer in your area.



-Omar Tarango is a Freelance Blogger and Social Media Manager-