Unemployment Insurance as a Potential Safety Net for TANF Leavers: Evidence from Five States. III: Monetary UI Eligibility

09/01/2004

Are TANF leavers likely to have a sufficient history of employment and earnings to be monetarily eligible for UI if they lose their jobs? How long does it take them to establish monetary eligibility? Why are some leavers less likely to be eligible? In this chapter, we discuss basic patterns of potential UI monetary eligibility among former TANF recipients in the five WtW sites who left welfare and worked; our focus is on the monetary eligibility of these individuals during the two-year period after they exited TANF for jobs. We also consider how eligibility rates vary by employment status and TANF receipt during the year preceding the reference month. Because patterns of UI eligibility may vary among the group of former TANF recipients who lose their jobs, we also examine potential monetary UI eligibility among those who actually experienced a job loss during the two-year period since TANF exit. Finally, we conclude this chapter with a discussion of UI monetary eligibility rates for the full set of leavers, including those who left TANF for work.

Around 90 percent of TANF recipients who exited welfare and worked would have attained monetary eligibility at some point during the two-year period after TANF exit.(1) Considerably fewer (between 50 and 80 percent) would potentially have monetary eligibility in any given quarter after TANF exit. These numbers are high relative to the estimated monetary eligibility rates of around 33 percent in studies that used data from the pre-PRWORA period. Additionally, the majority of former TANF recipients who exited for work and did not have monetary eligibility had some earnings during the base period, but their earnings were too low or of insufficient duration to enable them to qualify.

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