It is important to get an idea of the economic environment present over time in each site, as this may affect the outcomes of cyclers. Table 3 shows selected environmental statistics for each site over an eight-year period. In general, employment growth over the years of 1994 to 2001 ranged from around 2 to 3 percent in four sites and by more than 9 percent in Vermont. Growth in employment was greatest in Vermont and slowest in Cleveland.
The table also shows that unemployment rates generally declined over the period of 1994 to 2000. This decline was largest in Connecticut, where the unemployment rate decreased by 3.6 percentage points over the period. In 1994, Connecticut, Cleveland, and Philadelphia experienced the highest levels of unemployment, an average rate of 6.6 percent across these sites. However, by 2001, unemployment in Connecticut declined to levels comparable to Florida and Vermont.
Consistent with national trends, welfare caseloads declined dramatically (between 44 and 77 percent) in all sites, with the greatest decrease occurring in Florida, followed by Cleveland. (17) This large change in Florida may be explained by the extraordinary changes in both the state and federal welfare policy during the implementation years. For example, in addition to the Florida legislature voting to expand FTP from one county to several other Florida counties, it then passed the state's welfare reform act in May 1996, and the federal welfare reform act was passed just 3 months later. All of these changes were widely publicized. Another possible explanation for Florida's relatively large caseload decline may be its very high caseload level in the early 1990s. Perhaps because the state's caseload was so high, the rate of decline since that time has been much greater in Florida than most other states (the national caseload declined by 49 percent during the same period). From the Urban Change report, we know that the dramatic decline in caseloads in Cleveland occurred prior to the implementation of welfare reform and may be partially due to the strong economy or other factors.
|Characteristic||Evaluation Sites||Vermont WRP||Urban Change Sites|
|Connecticut Jobs First||Florida FTP||Cleveland||Philadelphia|
|Total employed (a)|
|Employment growth, 1994 - 2001(%)||3.4||3.3||9.5||1.7||3.4|
|Unemployment rate (%)(b)|
|Welfare caseload (c)|
|Change in welfare caseload, 1994 - 2001 (%)||-56.7||-76.8||-44.3||-66.1||-60.3|
|Maximum welfare grant for a family of 3 during first month of sample intake($)||636||303||638||341||403|
|First month of sample intake||1/96||5/94||7/94||7/94||1/94|
| Sources: MDRC calculations from data collected from U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics website; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families website; and U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Ways and Means, Green Books,1994-2000.
(a): Employment totals are monthly averages, not seasonally adjusted.
(b): Unemployment rates are monthly averages, not seasonally adjusted.
(c): Welfare caseloads totals are state monthly averages.
The bottom of Table 3 reports the maximum welfare grant for a family of three in 1994. Connecticut is the most generous state, while Florida is the least generous with a maximum benefit of just $303 for a family of three.(18)