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TANF "Leavers", Applicants, and Caseload Studies: Employment and Earnings



A major focus of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is moving families from welfare to work.  Thus, one major indicator of the program's success is the extent to which former welfare recipients are employed and the level of their earnings.

Through linkages with quarterly earnings records from state Unemployment Insurance (UI) systems, the ASPE-funded grantees are tracking the percentage of leavers who are employed and their level of earnings, by calendar quarter.  The strength of these administrative data is that employment and earnings can be tracked over several quarters after exit, for all individuals leaving TANF.  A major weakness, however, is that these administrative data do not capture employment in jobs that are not covered by the state's UI program (self-employment, employment in the military or federal government, certain agricultural employment, informal employment, jobs over state boundaries), and thus may underestimate employment rates.

All of the ASPE grantees also ask many questions about employment and earnings in their surveys of leavers and/or TANF applicants.  In addition to gathering more information about overall employment rates, these surveys often focus on issues that cannot be gathered from administrative data, such as hourly wages, the number of hours worked, earnings by others in the household, the types of jobs held, fringe benefits, barriers to employment, and education and training opportunities.


See also: employment and earnings sections or chapters in individual grantee reports.

Survey Questions and Administrative Data Measures