Utah And Florida Tested Welfare Applicants For Illegal Drug Use. The Results May Surprise You.

What happens when the data doesn't back your narratives about poverty?

It's no secret that there's a pretty widespread idea that welfare assistance recipients are lazy, drug-addled alcoholics who don't want to work. Throughout the country, various states have toyed with the idea of making drug-testing mandatory for applicants. In some states, this was made policy and rolled out in the form of additional questionnaires for applicants. Anyone saying that they were using or had used drugs were flagged for additional screening. In Florida, it was a bit different: every candidate was given an actual drug test.

Unfortunately for policy makers who would have loved to have had their worst suspicions confirmed by this kind of testing, the data--or at the very least, the methodology--simply didn't seem to support it.

4,730 tested in Utah.

Source: KSL.com

Out of 4,730 welfare applicants seeking assistance between August 2012 and July 2013, 466 showed what KSL called a "likelihood of drug use." Those 466 were given drug screens at a total cost of over $25,000. The result? Out of 4,730 applicants, 12 tested positive for illegal drugs.

That's a quarter of 1% of all applicants testing positive.

4,086 tested in Florida.

Source: TampaBay.com

In Florida, 4,086 applicants were actually tested for drugs. The cost of the tests themselves--not counting human hours etc--came in at $118,140. Of 4,086 applicants tested for illegal drugs, 108 tested positive, before the program was scrapped as a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

That's just 2.6% of applicants testing positive.

So, what happens when the data doesn't back a prevailing narrative of poverty?

Don't worry. They'll think of something.

SOURCE(s): KSL.com TampaBay.com via Mic.com. The data for Utah was originally spotted at Upworthy.com in an article by Franchesca Ramsey. Pie charts assembled by A+ using data from sources noted and the very fine tools at Meta-Chart.