Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Common Measures Used, Pros and Cons


Few surveys (NSAF, SPD, or Nebraska) collected information on employment history. Questions asked whether the respondent worked during the past 12 months; the number of months, weeks, or hours he or she worked during that time frame; and the number of jobs held. Most surveys, however, covered a core group of measures for evaluating current or recent employment status  including whether the respondent was currently employed and, if not, when the last employment spell occurred, the length of employment, hours worked per week, wages and earnings, industry and occupation, and availability of various employee benefits.

The WES, Nebraska, and Illinois surveys included extra questions covering the topics of seasonal or temporary employment and the usual shift or time of day worked. The WES also included questions on expectations for working at the same job a year from now, how long it would take a person to learn the respondents job, and whether the respondent was a union member. The Nebraska survey added two questions on the reasons for a respondent leaving his or her job, if not currently employed, and that persons perception of advancement opportunities at the current job.

The majority of measures presented in this chapter are important to include in the survey of TANF recipients. They gather basic job information and are needed to assess how respondents are faring in the labor market. Some measures are not crucial  such as, whether a respondent is a union member or how long it would take the respondent to learn a job

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