Description and Assessment of State Approaches to Diversion Programs and Activities Under Welfare Reform. C. Job Search Requirements

08/01/1998

Once workers have determined that an applicant is required to fulfill a job search requirement in order to be eligible for assistance, they must then determine exactly what the applicant must do in order to meet that job search requirement. In some states, the requirements are determined by the worker or by county officials in the local offices, and in other states these requirements specified by state officials with consideration given to the conditions of the labor market in the local areas.

Table IV-3 shows that the length of mandatory job search and the definition of what constitutes job search vary considerably across the states. The length of time that applicants are required to engage in job search activities ranges from as little as 2 weeks in South Carolina and Idaho to as many as 6 weeks in Georgia. Many states define the job search requirement as a specific number of contacts per specified time period, usually until the application is approved. Contacts range from as few as two over a 40-45 day period in Alabama to as many as 10 per week for four weeks in Missouri, Indiana, and Nevada.

TABLE IV-3.
SCOPE OF APPLICANT JOB SEARCH REQUIREMENTS (n=16)
State Scope of Job Searches Exceptions
Alabama The job search is 1) a minimum of two documented contacts with employers over 40-45 days; and 2) registration with local employment service. Depending on the geographic area, and whether jobs are available, the number of required contacts for individuals could be increased.  ü
Arkansas Applicants are required to engage in job search activities for at least 10 days following the application interview. The number and type of job contacts are determined at the county level (based on the opportunities available in the county). ü
Arizona Two-parent families are required to participate for a minimum of 3 days in work activities before the Department authorizes issuance of the initial TPEP cash assistance payment.  
Georgia Depending on where the applicant lives, between 12 to 24 job searches could be required for a maximum of 6 weeks with the average length of job search being 3 to 4 weeks.  
Idaho Two weeks of job search are required. Case workers have some discretion on the scope of the job search. ü
Indiana Ten job searches per week for 4 weeks.  ü
Kansas Applicants who must job search are required to make at least 10 employer contacts a week until approved.  ü
Maryland All local departments require documented job searches. However, the number of searches varies by department (20 - 30 per month). ü
Missouri Those who are in job search must make at least 10 employer contacts per week for a 4-week period.   
Nevada Job ready applicants must make 10 job search contacts/week until application is approved. The application process takes, on average, 26 days to process.  ü
New York Most counties have job search requirements. The number of job contacts is up to the counties.   
Ohio(1)    
Oklahoma There are 2 weeks of job search. Case workers may require a structured job search (e.g., specific number of employer contacts per week) or an unstructured (e.g., clients are instructed to search the newspaper on their own) job search. ü
Oregon There are no state requirements with regard to the number of job searches or a particular period of time. In East Oregon (a rural area) the state may require a person to look for work for only 1 week. In Portland, however, the state may require a person to search for work for 2-3 weeks (or longer). Generally, persons must be engaged in work search full-time (i.e., at least 20 hours/week). ü
South Carolina Individuals must conduct two weeks of job search (at 5 employer contacts per week).  
Wisconsin The state does not set a required number of job searches individuals must conduct. Local welfare offices determine the number of job searches. ü

Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina apply the same job search requirements statewide. In the remaining states, counties and local offices are given broad discretion to determine exactly what will be required of applicants. In Arkansas, non-exempt TANF applicants are required to engage in job search activities for at least 10 days following the initial application interview. However, determination of the number and type of job contacts are based on the opportunities available in the county. In Oregon, caseworkers must follow state guidelines that non-exempt persons must be engaged in work search full-time (i.e., at least 20 hours/week) for a period not to exceed 30 days. Beyond these broad requirements, local offices are free to define their own job search requirements. Thus, in East Oregon (a rural area) the local office requires a person to look for work for only 1 week. In Portland, the local office requires applicants to search for work for 2-3 weeks (or longer).
 

Good Cause Exceptions to Completing Job Search Requirements

As with the process for determining who must job search and who is exempt, states can allow exceptions for individuals who have failed to complete job search requirements. Good cause exceptions are given to applicants who are required to look for work but may be unable to complete the requirement because of unforeseen circumstances. Ten states provide good cause exceptions to applicants who are willing, but unable to complete their job search requirements. Good cause exceptions are generally considered for unavoidable, unexpected, or insurmountable barriers to securing or maintaining a job. Such good cause reasons for granting exceptions may include transportation or child care problems or illness. For example, in Arizona, illness, court-ordered appearance, lack of transportation and child care, a family crisis, severe weather, and incidence of domestic violence are considered good cause. If an applicant who is required to look for work but has not done so can show good cause, the TANF application will continue to be processed and will not be denied or withdrawn due to failure to meet job search requirements.