Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Chapter III. Welfare History, Employment, and Sources of Household Income


This chapter presents findings on the welfare and employment history of TANF recipients who responded to the telephone survey. Previous research has shown that welfare recipients tend to fall into three major categories in terms of welfare participation. Some recipients stay on welfare for brief periods of time, often due to short-term emergencies or crisis situations, while others stay on for long periods of time with few interruptions in their welfare participation. Even in states such as South
Carolina with relatively short time limits, some recipients may stay on assistance longer because they obtain work exemptions or time limit extensions. A third group consists of “welfare cyclers” who move on and off welfare frequently as they attempt to make the transition to employment and selfsufficiency. These three types of welfare recipients may need different types of services and interventions to become and stay employed.
Employment patterns among TANF recipients are of interest because they show the extent to which recipients have a work history that may help them transition to self-sufficiency. The work histories of different sub-groups of welfare recipients, such as high school dropouts, are useful in providing a better understanding of their special challenges to employability. Another area of interest involves the reasons why non-employed recipients are not currently working, in terms of targeting intervention strategies.
Information on the occupations in which welfare recipients are working is important for understanding potential barriers to employment stability, job advancement, and earnings growth. When the occupations in which welfare recipients are employed involve weekend work or evening and night shifts, special problems for child care and transportation arise. The types of employers for whom recipients are working have implications for job benefits and retention.
Finally, information on the sources and amounts of household income among TANF recipients is important because it shows the extent to which recipients can rely on alternatives to cash assistance, such as child support, financial help from family members, and on other adults in the household for support.


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