The Benefits Cliff Community Lab Project
At Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, our purpose is to help people see possibilities, seize opportunities and prosper. We advocate, connect, engage, educate and work collaboratively with key stakeholders on issues that directly affect the people in our community with pursuing the life they want to achieve. We shine a light on the things that stall or propel people’s ability to have equitable access to career opportunities, and we focus on policy areas impacting racial equity, workforce development and economic mobility.
Goodwill has been championing solutions to mitigate the impact of the benefits cliff on workers and their families in North Carolina. The Benefits Cliff Community Lab Project collaborates with various organizations to develop tools and solutions that will inform policy decisions and key stakeholders.
WHAT IS THE BENEFITS CLIFF?
The benefits cliff occurs when an increase in someone’s pay triggers a greater loss in public assistance. This happens because public assistance does not gradually decrease as income rises. Instead, it “drops off a cliff” at certain income thresholds.
For example, if someone receives a pay raise at work, that may push them over the income threshold of receiving public assistance like subsidized childcare, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and housing vouchers. For many Americans, it’s actually more beneficial to keep a lower-paying job since that can qualify them to receive public assistance.
Our goal is to eliminate the benefits cliff all together. As income gradually increases, public assistance should gradually decrease until low-income workers reach self-sufficiency. Although public assistance would increase initially to bridge the cliff, it would decrease over the longer term relative to the status quo as workers reach self-sufficiency. This is a logical solution for workers, businesses and taxpayers.
BENEFITS CLIFF DASHBOARD
The CLIFF Dashboard is an interactive tool that provides projections about income and public assistance along a career path. It compares the financial tradeoffs to different careers and illustrates how long it will take to achieve economic self-sufficiency. We encourage you to experiment with the dashboard to see implications of the benefits cliff in action.