How Well Have Rural and Small Metropolitan Labor Markets Absorbed Welfare Recipients?. Welfare Caseloads

04/01/2001

Exhibit 3.8 presents the average monthly caseload in each region at three points in time: 1993, 1996, and 1998. It also depicts the caseload as a percent of the civilian labor force, age 16 and over. As might be expected, while all regions experienced a reduction in caseloads between the three points in time, there was substantial variation in the size of the reduction across the regions (see Exhibit 3.9). In particular, the Wisconsin regions saw the most dramatic declines, while Vermont experienced relatively small reductions.

Exhibit 3.8 AFDC/TANF Caseloads in Study Regions
Region 1993 1996 1998
Monthly Caseload As Percent of Adult Civilian Labor Force Monthly Caseload As Percent of Adult Civilian Labor Force Monthly Caseload As Percent of Adult Civilian Labor Force

Decatur and Florence, Alabama

1,577 1.2 1,167 0.8 645 0.4

Rural Mississippi

45,384 5.3 36,565 4.2 19,096 2.2

Joplin, Missouri

2,081 2.9 1,906 2.4 1,271 1.6

Southeast Missouri

12,674 5.6 10,817 4.4 7,972 3.3

Jamestown, New York

3,154 4.6 2,516 3.7 1,975 2.9

North Country, New York

6,656 3.5 5,749 3.1 4,145 2.2

Medford-Ashland, Oregon

2,540 3.2 1,820 2.1 896 1.0

Central Oregon

1,342 2.1 1,026 1.5 635 0.9

Florence, South Carolina

2,619 4.3 2,469 4.1 1,665 2.6

Vermont

10,081 3.4 9,210 3.1 7,591 2.5

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

2,037 2.8 1,116 1.4 302 0.4

Wausau, Wisconsin

1,162 1.7 785 1.1 234 0.3

United States

4,963,000 3.8 4,628,000 3.4 3,305,000 2.4

Source: Lewin tabulations using the 2000 Area Resource File and information provided by state welfare agencies.

As might be expected, due to the implementation of PRWORA, caseload declines between 1996 and 1998 exceeded the declines between 1993 and 1996. Why the dramatic decline in welfare caseloads in Wisconsin? Partly, as we will see in Chapter 5, the strong labor market conditions contributed to the decline. Also, Wisconsin adopted one of the most stringent work requirements, requiring all who were job ready to either find unsubsidized work, take a trial job (with subsidies provided to the employer), or take a community service job. Vermont, on the other hand, provided relatively high grants, had a relatively generous earnings disregard, meaning individuals could combine work and welfare, and imposed no time limit on benefits (but does require individuals to work after two years).

Exhibit 3.9 Percent Reductions in AFDC/TANF Caseloads

Percent Reductions in AFDC/TANF Caseloads

Endnotes

(30) Jackson, Tennessee was an initial study region, but was excluded due to data limitations. This is discussed in Appendix F. [Back To Text]

(31) Oregon and Wisconsin had earlier waivers in place in selected counties outside the study regions. [Back To Text]