Unemployment Insurance as a Potential Safety Net for TANF Leavers: Evidence from Five States. A. Patterns of Basic UI Monetary Eligibility Over Time

09/01/2004

  • Some 90 percent of former recipients who exited welfare for work would have attained potential monetary eligibility for UI during the two-year period after their TANF exit.

Across all sites, close to 90 percent of those who left TANF for work were likely to have attained monetary eligibility for UI at some point during the two-year period after TANF exit (Figure III.1). As the figure shows, most of those who are estimated to attain monetary eligibility do so during the first year after TANF exit. First-time monetary eligibility increases rapidly during the first three quarters after TANF exit, subsequently growing at a much more modest pace between quarters 4 and 8 after exit. The number estimated as likely to attain monetary eligibility is higher than the numbers found in previous studies of welfare recipients’ monetary eligibility (Vroman 1998; and Kaye 1997). The higher estimate is likely a function of the patterns of higher earnings and of more-stable employment among welfare recipients in recent times, which have been driven by both welfare reform’s strong emphasis on work and the strong economic conditions that prevailed during the study period.(2)

Figure III.1.
Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit
Figure III.1.1 Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit, Phoeniz, AZ
Figure III.1.2 Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit, Cook Co, IL
Figure III.1.3 Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit, Baltimore Co, MD
Figure III.1.4 Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit, Philadelphia, PA
Figure III.1.5 Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility in Each Quarter, by Quarter After Exit, Tarrant Co, TX
Sources: Administrative records data from selected Welfare-to-Work Evaluation study sites, assembled by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Note: Sample includes those who had left TANF within one year of the reference period and held a job around the time of TANF exit. The reference period varied between September 1999 through August 2000 across the states.

  • Many TANF leavers who exit for employment and potentially ever attain UI monetary eligibility would subsequently move in and out of UI monetary eligibility status.

A significant fraction of those who would have attained monetary eligibility for UI also would have lost their eligibility at some point during the two-year period. We examined the extent to which those who would have been monetarily eligible for UI during the first year were likely to remain eligible during the remaining quarters of the two-year period. Across the sites, between 30 and 49 percent of TANF recipients who exited for work and who would have become eligible during the first year after exit would have lost their potential eligibility between the time they became eligible and the end of the eight-quarter period (Figure III.2). This finding suggests that, although many former TANF recipients may “ever” potentially attain monetary eligibility, there is considerable movement in and out of eligibility. Across the sites, only about half the sample members who would have attained eligibility within the first year after TANF exit would have retained it throughout the eight-quarter period. Finally, on average, those who exited TANF for work would have UI monetary eligibility for five to six quarters over the eight-quarter period after TANF exit; the exception was Tarrant County, Texas, where individuals potentially had UI monetary eligibility for just under four quarters (not shown).

Figure III.2.
Patterns of Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work

(In the Two-Year Period After TANF Exit)
Figure III.2. Patterns of Cumulative UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work
Sources: Administrative records data from selected Welfare-to-Work Evaluation study sites, assembled by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Note: Sample includes those who had left TANF within one year of the reference period and held a job around the time of TANF exit. The reference period varied between September 1999 through August 2000 across the states.

  • UI monetary eligibility levels increased steadily over the first four quarters after TANF exit as individuals built up the earnings required to qualify for UI but then slowly fell as many clients experienced job loss.

The fraction who would potentially have monetary eligibility in any given quarter after TANF exit increased steadily during the first four quarters after exit; across sites, 70 to 80 percent had monetary eligibility at the fourth quarter after exit (Figure III.3). Thereafter, potential monetary eligibility rates first slowly fell and then remained at around 50 to 70 percent during each quarter of the second year after exit. Although this pattern is similar across the five sites, potential monetary eligibility in any given quarter was relatively high in Cook County, Baltimore County, and Philadelphia, and somewhat lower in Phoenix and Tarrant counties. The patterns of potential monetary eligibility reflect the effects of the observed employment patterns in the sites in conjunction with the state UI rules in these sites.

Figure III.3.
Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work
Figure III.3.1 Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Phoenix, AZ
Figure III.3.2 Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Cook Co, IL
Figure III.3.3 Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Baltimore Co,  MD
Figure III.3.4 Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Philadelphia, PA
Figure III.3.5 Quarterly UI Monetary Eligibility Among Those Who Exited TANF For Work, Tarrant Co, TX
Source: Administrative records data from selected Welfare-to-Work Evaluation study sites, assembled by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Note: Sample includes those who exited TANF and held a job within three months of TANF exit.

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