- High school dropouts fared significantly worse in the job market.
Respondents who had not completed high school were less likely to be working at interview (25%) than respondents who were educated beyond high school (42%). In addition, employed high school dropouts earned 27% less than respondents who were educated beyond high school ($527 compared to $699 a month). Not surprisingly, 18% of high school dropouts showed evidence of a possible learning disability, more than three times the rate of respondents educated beyond high school.
- Type of occupation was very important in terms of earnings, benefits, work hours, andperceptions of advancement potential.
In general, recipients who worked in office jobs had better pay, benefits, and perceived prospects for advancement than recipients working in retail/sales jobs, restaurant jobs, or housekeeping jobs. In addition, office jobs typically involved standard work hours, while jobs in retail/sales and restaurants usually involved irregular shifts, evening or night shifts, and weekend work. Non-standard work hours create child care and transportation challenges for families and tend to undermine job satisfaction and stability.
- Respondents with exemptions had higher rates of health problems.
The survey sample was stratified to include recipients who had received exemptions from work requirements, recipients who had been granted extensions of the time limits, and recipients with neither, who were mandated to work. The major reasons for granting work exemptions in South Carolina are health problems and caring for a sick or disabled family member. Exempted clients were older than other clients (nearly half were over 35, compared to 15% of those without exemptions or extensions), and in worse health. Over half of those with exemptions who were not working reported health problems and more of the exempted clients had mental health problems than other clients.
- Respondents with time-limit extensions cited lack of jobs as the main reason for needing more time on TANF.
Time-limit extensions were usually granted for either lack of jobs, and/or lack of the support services necessary to work. Demographically, respondents with time limit extensions were more likely to be black (89% compared to 74% of those without exemptions or extensions) and to have three or more children (47% compared to 29%, respectively). The major factors cited by those with time limit extensions for not working were lack of jobs and enrollment in post-secondary education.
- Better assessments may be needed to identify recipients who should have received an exemption or extension.