Families on TANF in South Carolina: Employment Assets and Liabilities. Work History and Current Employment Status


As noted above, the lack of a stable employment history may be a major barrier for persons trying to leave welfare and enter the workforce. While about half of the recipients did have a more extensive work history in that they had worked almost all of the time, almost 40% of the TANF recipients in South Carolina said that they had worked for pay only half the time or less since they turned 18 (Figure III-2). Nearly 70% were not working at the time of interview (Appendix E Figure III-a), and 40% had not worked in the past year (Appendix E Figure III-b).
Figure III-2 - Since Turning 18, How Much of the Time Have You Been Employed?
Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina
  • Most of the currently employed respondents had not worked continuously in the past year.

While one third of the TANF recipients were currently employed, most had not had stable employment in the last year. Less than a third of the employed respondents had worked most of the time (10 or more months) in the past year (Appendix E Figure III-b). In combination, slightly less than half of currently employed respondents had worked at least half the time in the past year.

  • Younger and better educated recipients were more likely to be working.

Among non-employed recipients, older persons were much less likely to have a recent work history, suggesting that they may have more employment barriers. Slightly more than half of the nonemployed respondents aged under 30 had worked in the past year, compared to only about a quarter of non-employed respondents aged 40 and older. Current employment status varied greatly by education, suggesting that less educated TANF recipients face special challenges when it comes to employment. Only 25% of the high school dropouts were currently working, compared to more than 40% of the respondents educated beyond high school.

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