A Profile of Families Cycling on and off Welfare. What are the employment and job characteristics of cyclers?


Survey responses provide additional information on labor market outcomes for cyclers, short-term recipients, and long-term recipients. (34) Table 9 presents outcomes on employment. Among respondents, cyclers experienced less stable employment and worked at lower quality jobs compared with short-term recipients. They fared only somewhat better in the labor market than long-term recipients. These results are consistent with findings calculated from administrative records for the full sample.

Table 9.
Measures of Employment for Cyclers, Short-Term Recipients, and Long-Term Recipients,
Recorded from Survey Responses at the End of the Observation Period
Outcome Cyclers Short-Term Recipients Long-term Recipients Full Sample
Ever employed (%) 93.0 90.7 86.1 ** 88.3
  No longer employed at interview 39.3 19.2 38.8 ** 31.9
  Employed at interview 53.8 71.5 47.4 ** 56.5
  Employed part-time at interview 8.2 12.2 13.6 ** 12.6
  Employed full-time at interview 44.5 58.0 31.5 ** 42.1
  Employed with medical coverage at interview
    Offered 22.9 40.2 18.3 ** 26.5
    Enrolled 11.4 26.6 8.2 ** 15.0
Average hourly wage, if employed at interview ($) 7.53 8.24 7.38 ** 7.78
Sample size 348 1,550 2,387 4,285
Sources: MDRC calculations from survey responses.
Notes: Sample members were interviewed between 36 and 60 months after sample intake. The samples were equally weighted by site.
F-tests were used to assess differences across the main comparison groups.
"**" indicates statistical significance at the 0.05 level or smaller.

As shown in Table 9, nearly all respondents in each group reported working for pay during at least part of the observation period. However, cyclers were twice as likely as short-term recipients to be jobless at the time of their interview (39.3 percent versus 19.2 percent). In fact, cyclers' rate of job loss more closely resembled the level for long-term recipients (38.8 percent). Similarly, compared with short-term recipients, a smaller percentage of cyclers worked at jobs that provided full-time employment - that is, for thirty or more hours per week  at the time of their interview. Cyclers also reported a lower incidence of working at jobs that offered medical coverage, about 17 percentage points below the level of 40.2 percent for short-term recipients. A similar difference was found on rates of enrollment in employer-provided medical plans.(35) Levels of coverage for cyclers exceeded the rates for long-term recipients, but by less than 5 percentage points. Finally, among respondents who were working at the time of their interview, cyclers averaged about $0.71 less per hour of work, compared with short-term recipients, and earned only slightly more per hour than long-term recipients.

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