Unemployment Insurance as a Potential Safety Net for TANF Leavers: Evidence from Five States. C. Why Are Some People Monetarily Ineligible for UI?

09/01/2004

As we have seen earlier, a significant number of those who left TANF for work were monetarily ineligible for UI in any given quarter during the second year after exit. Why are some individuals unlikely to attain monetary eligibility for UI? Are they working, but in low-wage jobs and with irregular employment, so that their earnings are insufficient to qualify? Or did they have no employment during the relevant base period for that quarter? If the former reason explains the lack of eligibility, job retention and advancement may have to become an important part of TANF and UI program services. If the latter explanation applies, then it may be necessary to increase the TANF program’s emphasis on job search and basic skills training.

  • The majority of former TANF recipients who would not have had monetary eligibility had some earnings during the base period, but their earnings were too low or of insufficient duration to enable them to qualify.

In Figure III.7, the portions of the graphs shaded gray show the fraction of individuals who had earnings during the base period for that quarter but who would not have had monetary eligibility for UI. For example, if we examine quarter 8, we see that around 18 to 28 percent of former TANF recipients were monetarily ineligible but had some base-period earnings for that quarter. (This group represents about two-thirds of those who did not attain potential monetary eligibility.) Most of these individuals (between half to over 90 percent across the sites) had earnings below the maximum qualifying levels, which would make them monetarily ineligible. In addition, most of them had worked only one quarter, and thus had no stable employment. The remaining individuals had enough earnings to meet the minimum earnings requirements but failed the earnings distribution requirements such as the proportion of high quarter earnings or the proportion of the earnings outside the high quarter to the whole base period earnings. The high fraction with low earnings and sparse employment histories reinforces the importance of providing job retention services to former TANF recipients to help them build stable employment histories.

Figure III.7.
Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work
Figure III.7.1 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Phoenix, AZ
Figure III.7.2 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Cook Co, IL
Figure III.7.3 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Baltimore Co,  MD
Figure III.7.4 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Philadelphia, PA
Figure III.7.5 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Tarrant Co, TX
Figure III.7 Quarterly UI Eligibility and Ineligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Legend
Source: Administrative records data from selected Welfare-to-Work Evaluation study sites, assembled by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

(a): Base period refers to base period for the relevat quarter after TANF exit.

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