Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Monthly Earnings and Sources of Household Income

10/01/2004

  • Of the respondents who had worked for pay in the month before the survey, more than a third had earnings less than $5,000 per year.

Of the respondents who had earnings in the month before the survey, many had very low earnings. For example, more than a third had earnings of less than $400 during the month (Appendix D Table IIIh). The median monthly earnings for all employed respondents were only $500.

  • Respondents educated beyond high school earned 33% more than others.

Respondents educated beyond high school had higher average monthly earnings ($699) than other respondents (~$520). About a quarter of the respondents educated beyond high school earned $1,000 or more in the month before the survey, compared to 6% of high school dropouts and 10% of persons who had graduated from high school without going to college (data not shown).

  • One in five respondents reported that another adult in the household was employed in the month before the survey.

The presence of other employed adults in the household can improve a TANF recipient’s ability to meet family needs once they leave welfare. Overall, about one in five (21%) of the respondents said that there was another adult in the household who was employed in the month before the survey (data not shown). Almost half (45 %) of the respondents who were married or living with a partner had another adult in the household who was employed in the month before the survey. In contrast, less than one in seven of divorced or separated respondents had another adult in the household who was employed in the month before the survey.

In addition, almost half of the respondents reported that someone in their household had received income from a job in the month before the survey (Table III-1). The average amount received was a little more than $900. As noted in the table, 87% of the respondents reported that their households received food stamps in the month before the survey, and 70% were still on cash assistance.
 
Table III-1
Percentage of Households With Income from Various Sources in the Month Before the Survey (n=1,120)
Income Source
Percent of Households
Average Amount
Money from jobs 49 $909
Food Stamps 87 $283
SSI/disability insurance 14 $535
Child support 21 $189
Unemployment benefits 4 $360
Money from friends/family 13 $116
Any other 2 $535

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

  • Relatively few respondents reported that their household had received income other than through earnings, food stamps, or cash welfare.

One of the key issues for policymakers is whether TANF recipients can rely on other sources of income besides earnings if they leave cash assistance. Generally we found that relatively few of the respondents could expect to rely upon unearned income. About one-fifth of the respondents reported that someone in their household had received child support in the month before the survey; the average amount received was $1896 (Table III-1). Few recipients received support from other sources, such as SSI or other disability payments, unemployment insurance benefits, or financial help from friends or family in the month before the survey.


6 Twelve percent of all respondents stated that they had received child support on a regular basis in the past year, and another 16% reported that they had received occasional child support payments in the past year.

 

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