Evaluating Two Approaches to Case Management: Implementation, Participation Patterns, Costs, and Three-Year Impacts of the Columbus Welfare-to-Work Program. Program Environment

06/01/2001

Table 1.1 summarizes some key aspects of the Columbus environment. Between 1992 and 1997, the period covered in this report, Columbus was a growing metropolitan area with a population of close to 1 million. The labor market was robust: the unemployment rate was low and decreased throughout the follow-up period, and employment grew by 8 percent.

Table 1.1.
Characteristics of the Program Environment
Characteristic Total

Population, 1990

961,437

Population growth, 1990-1995 (%)

5.2
Unemployment rate(%)

1992

4.6

1993

4.5

1994

3.7

1995

2.9

1996

2.9

1997

2.7

Employment growth, 1992-1997a(%)

8.1
AFDC caseloadb

1992

24,583

1993

24,904

1994

24,393

1995

21,786

1996

19,474

1997

16,886

AFDC grant level for a family of three, 1993($)

341

Food stamp benefit level for a family of three, 1993c($)

292

Source: Hall and Gaquin,eds., 1997; Freedman et al., 2000; Hamilton and Brock, 1994; U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics; site contacts.
Notes: Data are for Franklin County. aEmployment growth figures were calculated using data from the U.S . Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. bAnnual average single-parent monthly caseloads as reported by the state. cAssumes the receipt of the maximum AFDC payment.

The number of people receiving cash assistance was relatively stable at the start of the study period and began to decrease after 1994.(20) Over the follow-up period the caseload decreased by 31 percent. In 1993, a family of three could receive up to $341 per month through the AFDC program, slightly less than the national median of $367, and up to $292 worth of Food Stamps.

Under the FSA, all states were required to disregard some earned income when calculating a family's AFDC grant. During the first four months of employment, $120 and an additional one-third of the remainder of monthly earnings were disregarded. During the next eight months of employment, a flat $120 was disregarded. After one year of work, the disregard fell to $90. In addition, recipients could disregard child care expenditures, up to $175 per child aged 2 and over and $200 per child under age 2.(21) In July 1996, Ohio increased the amount of earned income that would be disregarded to $250 and 50 percent of the remainder of monthly earnings for 12 months. This increased disregard was expanded to 18 months with the implementation of the state's TANF plan in October 1997.(22)