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


This section examines the work history and employment status of the survey respondents with work exemptions or time limit extensions. In terms of current employment status, 16% of the respondents with work exemptions were employed at the time of the survey compared to 36% of the clients with no exemptions or extensions and 41% of the respondents who had been given a time limit extension.
Of the respondents who had been granted work exemptions, 57% had worked most of the time since they turned 18 (Table VI-1). This was not much lower than the percentage of respondents who had not been granted work exemptions. This finding suggests that in many cases the reason for the work exemption may have been a temporary health condition or other short-term situation.
  • Most non-employed respondents with work exemptions cited health problems as the main reason for not working.

Among non-employed respondents, 57% with work exemptions cited health conditions as the most important reason why they were not working (Table VI-2), and 13% cited the health problems of a family member. The work history of the respondents since turning 18 did not vary greatly by their current work exemption status.

  • Most non-employed respondents with time limit extensions cited lack of jobs and being in school or training as the reason for not working.

Of the non-employed respondents with time limit extensions, 34% said that lack of jobs was the main reason for not working (Table VI-2), and another 27% cited school or training. In contrast, very few of the respondents with work exemptions mentioned these reasons; rather, health problems were most often the problem in this stratum.

Table VI-2
Non-employed Respondents – Most Important Reason for Not Currently Working
No Exemptions or Extensions
Exempted from Work
Exempted from Work
  Percent Percent Percent
Own ill health, disability 13 57 11
Other family responsibilities, sick child
3 13 4
No jobs 31 8 34
In school or other training 14 5 27
Other 39 17 24
Source: Telephone surveys of 1,120 TANF recipients in South Carolina

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