Leaving TANF for employment is defined as: zero cash TANF payment to the assistance unit in a calendar quarter (with no sanction) and with earnings of at least $100 in that calendar quarter or the next quarter.
Key concepts in the analysis are:
- TANF exit for employment is defined as zero cash TANF payment to the assistance unit in a calendar quarter with earnings of at least $100 in that calendar quarter or the next quarter. The zero payment must not be due to a sanction.
- Employment is defined as earnings of at least $100 in a calendar quarter. This definition is the same as that applied by the Social Security Administration when measuring the duration of insured employment to determine eligibility for retirement benefits.
- Unemployment is defined as a calendar quarter with earnings less than $100.
All three of these concepts are measured using UI administrative records on earnings as reported quarterly by employers. The definition of unemployment is a very strict one and certainly understates the true extent of experience with joblessness in the samples.
Samples from all states involved in the study are analyzed for calendar year 2000 TANF receipt cohorts. These samples include TANF recipients in calendar year 2000 who exit from TANF for employment by the first calendar quarter of 2001. Analysis is conducted on earlier and later TANF exit cohorts where data are available for other states. The four alternative TANF exit time frames are:
- TANF receipt 1997Q2 to 1998Q1 and exit by 1998Q2,
- TANF receipt 2000Q1 to 2000Q4 and exit by 2001Q1,
- TANF receipt 2001Q1 to 2001Q4 and exit by 2002Q1, and
- TANF receipt 2003Q1 to 2003Q4 and exit by 2004Q1.
TANF leavers in each cohort are followed for 3 years after TANF exit to check for the start of any jobless spells.