Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Findings on the Relative Importance of Specific Barriers

10/01/2004

  • Personal barriers were generally found to be more important than situational barriers in terms of current employment status.

To discern the relative importance of different barriers for the employability of TANF recipients, we examined two indicators of employment: (1) whether the respondent was currently employed, and (2) whether the respondent had worked in the past year. The first of these indicators provided a “snapshot” of the respondent’s employment status at interview, while the second provided a broader picture of the respondent’s recent work history. Overall, almost one-third of the respondents were working at the time of interview, and 62% had worked in the past year.

Table ES-2 summarizes the effects of different barriers on the probability that the respondent was employed at the time of the survey. The results were based on a multiple regression analysis, which examined the role of each barrier while controlling for other barriers and for demographic characteristics.
 
Table ES-2
Effect of Different Barriers on the Likelihood thata TANF Recipient Was Currently Employed
Barriers That Had a Significant Negative Effect (Rank Order)
Signs of a possible learning disability
Child or other family member with health problem or need
Physical health problem
Mental health problem
Experience with fewer than four common job tasks
Did not complete high school or GED
Barriers That Did Not Have a Significant Negative Effect
Criminal record
Domestic violence in the past year
Transportation barriers in the past year
Child care barriers in the past year
Unstable housing in the past year
Neighborhood problems

Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina

  • Personal barriers were also the most important in terms of the recent work history of the survey respondents.

Table ES-3 summarizes the effects of different barriers on the probability that the respondent hadworked in the past year, the most significant of which was physical health problems.

  • Situational or logistical barriers did not have a significant negative effect upon current employment status or recent work history.

As shown in Tables ES-2 and ES-3, logistical and situational problems, such as transportation, child care, housing, or neighborhood conditions, did not have a significant negative effect on the likelihood that respondents were currently working or had worked in the past year, once controlling for other factors. Although these barriers did not show a negative effect on employment, this does not mean that they were not barriers. Rather, clients may have had less difficulty resolving or circumventing logistical barriers than personal barriers through support from family, friends, and/or from community agencies.

In addition, as discussed in Chapter VI, clients with exemptions from the work requirements of the TANF Program may have had less need for child care and transportation, and these logistical barriers showed up as less of a problem.
 
Table ES-3
Effect of Different Barriers on the Likelihood that aTANF Recipient Had Worked in the Past Year
 
Barriers That Had a Significant Negative Effect (Rank Order)
Physical health problem
Child or other family member with health problem or need
Experience with fewer than four common job tasks
Signs of a possible learning disability
Mental health problem
Barriers That Did Not Have a Significant Negative Effect
Criminal record
Domestic violence in the past year
Transportation barriers in past year
Child care barriers in past year
Unstable housing in past year
Neighborhood problems
Did not complete high school or GED

 

Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina

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