Encouraging families to move off welfare and into jobs is a stated goal of the federal welfare reform law passed in 1996. These ASPE-funded studies of families leaving welfare show that, on average, about three-quarters of all leavers work at some point after exiting TANF and that about three out of five work at any given point in time. Their wages are above the federal minimum wage but are nevertheless low, averaging between $7 and $8 an hour. Although about half of all working leavers are offered health insurance through their jobs, only about one-third actually have coverage, and no more than half have paid sick leave or pension coverage. Paid vacations days are a bit more common. Finally, there is no single barrier to work that consistently affects a majority of leavers; however, a substantial minority of leavers must overcome child care and health-related problems in order to work.
15Note that the survey findings are based on the 1998 cohort of leavers while the administrative data findings are based on the 1997 cohort.
16Note that we report nominal monetary values. While inflation was very low during the late 1990s, a two-year difference between studies can represent about a five percent difference in purchasing power.
17 Differences in the distribution of leavers by race and ethnic make-up of the leaver cohorts across studies is reported in Chapter II.