Indicators of Welfare Dependence: Annual Report to Congress, 2008. Employment and Work-Related Risk Factors (WORK)


The second grouping, labeled with the WORK prefix, includes eight factors related to employment and barriers to employment.  These measures include data on overall labor force attachment and employment and earnings for low-skilled workers, as well as data on barriers to work.  The latter category includes incidence of adult and child disabilities, adult substance abuse, and levels of educational attainment and school drop-out rates.

Employment and earnings provide many families with an escape from dependence.  It is important, therefore, to look both at overall labor force attachment (WORK 1), and at employment and earnings for those with low education levels (WORK 2 and WORK 3).  The economic condition of the low-skill labor market is a key predictor of the ability of men and women to support families without receiving means-tested assistance.

The next two measures in this group (WORK 4 and WORK 5) focus on educational attainment.  Individuals with less than a high school education have the lowest amount of human capital and are at the greatest risk of being poor, despite their work effort.

Measures of barriers to employment provide indicators of potential work limitations, which may be predictors of greater dependence.  Substance abuse (WORK 6) and disabling conditions among children and adults (WORK 7) all have the potential of limiting the ability of the adults in the household to work.  In addition, debilitating health conditions and high medical expenditures can strain a family’s economic resources.  The labor force participation of women with children (WORK 8) is also a predictor of dependence.

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