UI as a Safety Net for Former TANF Recipients. Time from job separation to UI claim


To learn how quickly TANF leavers contact the UI system after becoming unemployed, the time lag from job separation to the date of UI application — also called the UI benefit year begin (BYB) date — was measured.(2) Necessary data were available only for UI claimants in Florida, Michigan, and the Texas 2003 cohorts. Some of these claimants did not receive UI benefit payments, but we used the BYB records showing their date of UI claim. The time lag was measured in weeks. Table 9 summarizes the time lags from job separation to UI application (BYB date) among cohorts overall and grouped by year after TANF exit when new unemployment occurred (see also Figure 8).


Table 9.
Time Lag (in weeks) from Job Separation when First Newly Unemployed to UI Benefit Year Begin Date
New Unemployment 1997
2000 Cohorts 2001 Cohorts 2003
Florida Michigan Florida Michigan
Year 1 after Exit 8.6 6.2 5.2 7.1 4.8 5.8 6.5
Year 2 after Exit 5.3 7.1 5.1 7.4 5.3 5.5 5.9
Year 3 after Exit 3.6 6.6 5.5   4.5 4.3 4.9
Year 4 after Exit 5.2   4.6       5.0
Total UI Applicants (*1) 11,915 9,601 7,796 6,499 6,921 3,738 46,470
Overall Mean Lag 5.6 6.6 5.2 7.2 4.9 5.1 5.8
Overall Median Lag 2.0 2.0 1.0 3.0 1.0 1.0 2.0
Note: (*1) Based on the quarter prior to new unemployment through three quarters after new unemployment using the Benefit Year Begin date (BYB) of the first UI application that occurs in that time period. This excludes persons who did not have a job separation date, had a separation date prior to TANF exit, or had a separation date that occurred after the Benefit Year End date (BYE) of the UI claim. For the Florida 1997 and Michigan 2000 cohorts, mean UI application lags are also reported for persons who become newly unemployed for the first time in the fourth year after TANF exit.

Figure 8.
Weeks from Job Separation to UI Benefit Year Begin Date
by Year After TANF Exit in which New Unemployment Occurs

Figure 8. Weeks form Job Separation to UI Benefit Year Begin Date by Year After TANF Exit in which New Unemployment Occurs. See text for explanation.

UI claimants with BYBs in the first year after TANF exit tend to have longer lags between their job separation date and BYB. TANF leavers who become unemployed in the first year after TANF exit may delay UI application because they have a lower expectation of qualifying for UI benefits with low accumulated earnings. Similarly, inferior job matches may end sooner and be associated with contentious job separations resulting in lower expectations for UI benefit eligibility by the jobless.

Across the TANF leaver cohorts analyzed, the overall mean lag from job separation to BYB ranged from 4.9 to 7.2 weeks. But the median lags were either 1.0 or 2.0 weeks in five of the six cohorts examined. This means that at least half of newly unemployed TANF leavers filed their UI claims quickly. The mean lag being longer than the median results from relatively small shares of the TANF leaver cohorts waiting for longer periods before they file UI claims.

Mean time lags from job separation to BYB were much shorter for UI applicants who were not TANF leavers. Table 10 reports the time lags to be between 2.0 and 3.2 weeks among non-TANF leavers during the timeframes matched to analysis cohorts. The simple unadjusted differences from TANF leavers were between 1.9 and 4.6 weeks.


Table 10.
Time Lag (weeks) from Job Separation to UI Application for TANF Leavers and Differences from Other UI Applicants
2000 Cohorts 2001 Cohorts 2003
Florida Michigan Florida Michigan
TANF 5.7 6.6 5.2 7.2 4.9 5.1
Non-TANF 2.0 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.4 3.2
Simple Difference 3.73** 4.45** 2.77** 4.59** 2.54** 1.90**
Adjusted Difference 1.33** 0.43** 1.56** -1.11** 1.02** 0.83**
Note:  (*1) These estimates are computed applying the constraint that new unemployment occurred within three years of TANF exit. This explains why the mean time lag for the Florida 1997 cohort TANF leavers differs slightly from that reported in Table 9 where UI claims following new unemployment in the fourth year after TANF exit are included.

** Difference significantly different from zero at the 95 percent confidence level for a two-tail test.

Estimates of adjusted differences in UI claim lags between TANF leavers and others were computed in regression models controlling for observable characteristics, UI program parameters, and labor market conditions. The regression-adjusted differences tended to be smaller than unadjusted differences, but were in the same direction with TANF leavers waiting longer to apply for UI. The smaller, regression-adjusted estimates suggest that much of the apparent difference in timing of UI application relative to job separation is explained by differences in observed characteristics between TANF leaver UI applicants and UI claimants without recent TANF involvement. Even after accounting for differences between the two groups, however, TANF leavers delayed UI application longer in 5 of the 6 TANF leaver cohorts compared with UI applicants not recently involved with TANF. The single exception was the Florida 2001 cohort wherein the regression-adjusted estimate suggests that TANF leavers established BYBs sooner than otherwise similar, non-TANF leavers. The result in Florida was likely a consequence of the onset and aftermath of the economic slowdown that started in 2001.

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