Welfare Indicators and Risk Factors: Thirteenth Report to Congress. INDICATOR 8. Welfare Spell Duration with No Labor Force Attachment

03/01/2014

Figure IND 8. Percentage of TANF Spells with No Family Labor Force Attachment for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell

Figure IND 8. Percentage of TANF Spells with No Family Labor Force Attachment for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. Due to the length of the observation period, actual spell lengths for spells that lasted more than 20 months cannot be observed. TANF spells with no family labor force attachment are defined as those spells starting during the 2008 SIPP panel for persons who received TANF and lived in families with no labor force participants in each month.

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2008 panel.


  • Figure IND 8 shows the percentage of TANF spells with no family labor force attachment for persons entering the TANF program between 2008 and 2011 by length of spell.18
  • Welfare spells with no family labor force attachment are measured as consecutive months that a person received TANF benefits and lived in a family with no labor force participants. Welfare spells with no family labor force attachment may end when a person leaves the TANF program or when a person remains on TANF but at least one person in the family enters the labor market.
  • Fifty-four (53.5) percent of welfare spells with no family labor force attachment lasted four months or less as measured in the Survey of Income and Program Participation.
  • Table IND 8a shows the percentage of TANF spells with no family labor force attachment by spell length for different demographic groups. The percentage of spells ending in four months or less was smaller for Non-Hispanic Whites (46.5 percent) than it was for Non-Hispanic Blacks (57.7 percent) and Hispanics (53.2 percent).

Table IND 8a. Percentage of TANF Spells with No Family Labor Force Attachment for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Length of Spell and Selected Characteristics

  Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
All Persons 53.5 31.2 7.5 7.9
    Racial/Ethnic Categories
        Non-Hispanic White 46.5 35.9 10.8 6.8
        Non-Hispanic Black 57.7 28.2 6.0 8.1
        Hispanic 53.2 32.6 7.1 7.2
    Age Categories
        Children ages 0-15 47.9 34.3 9.0 8.7
        Adults ages 16-64 60.0 28.1 5.9 6.1

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. TANF spells with no family labor force attachment are defined as those spells starting during the 2008 SIPP panel (2008 – 2011) for persons who received TANF and lived in families with no labor force participants in each month.

Persons of Hispanic ethnicity may be of any race. Due to small sample size, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians and Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders are included in the total for all persons but are not shown separately.

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2008 panel.

Table IND 8b. Percentage of TANF Spells with No Family Labor Force Attachment for Persons Entering Programs during the 2008 SIPP Panel by Selected Years

  Spells <=4 Months Spells 5-12 Months Spells 13-20 Months Spells >20 Months
1993 – 1995 42.6 26.4 8.5 22.5
1996 – 1999 54.2 28.3 9.3 8.3
2001 – 2003 56.1 23.0 10.6 10.2
2004 – 2007 51.6 25.0 9.4 14.0
2008—2011 53.5 31.2 7.5 7.9

Note: Spell length categories are mutually exclusive. Spells separated by only 1 month are not considered separate spells. TANF spells with no family labor force attachment are defined as those spells starting during the 2008 SIPP panel (2008 – 2011) for persons who received TANF and lived in families with no labor force participants in each month.

Source: Unpublished tabulations from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2004, and 2008 panels.


  • Table IND 8b shows the percentage of TANF spells with no family labor force attachment for persons entering the program during selected periods by spell length. In the late 2000s, 53.5 percent of TANF spells with no family labor force attachment ended within four months and 84.7 percent ended within a year.
  • The percentage of spells with no family labor force attachment lasting more than 20 months was higher in the early 1990s than in the late 2000s (22.5 percent compared to 7.9 percent, respectively).

18 Indicators 7 and 8 provide similar information; however, the percentages of spell lengths differ because the two Indicators are computed differently. Indicator 7 shows spells for all recipients while Indicator 8 restricts welfare spells to recipients in families without any labor force participants. This difference results in a higher percentage of spells longer than 20 months in Indicator 7, where TANF employment may be combined, and compared to Indicator 8 where no one in the family may be in the labor force.

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