The Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Enrollee Outcomes One Year After Program Entry. How Well Were Enrollees Compensated for Their Labor?


The elements of employment compensation considered in this evaluation are the hourly wage rate and fringe benefits, with a focus on health insurance, paid sick leave, and pensions.(46) As in the preceding two sections, the findings on compensation are based on the principal job held by an employed WtW enrollee one year after program entry.

a. What Was Their Hourly Rate of Pay?

WtW enrollees in eight of the study sites had a mean wage rate on their primary job of between approximately $7 and $8 per hour (Exhibit IV.6, bottom panel). West Virginia, Baltimore County, and Boston were the exceptions to this pattern. Although enrollees in West Virginia had more favorable employment outcomes than those in many of the other study sites, their mean hourly wage rate ($5.75) was notably low. In contrast, the mean wage rates for WtW enrollees in Baltimore County ($9.08) and Boston ($9.82) were well above those for enrollees in the other sites.

If the employed WtW enrollees had been consistently working 40 hours per week for an entire month at the hourly wage on their primary job and had no income from government programs, but did have their actual income from other sources (such as the earnings of other household members), then their households would have experienced poverty rates ranging from a low of 20 percent in Baltimore County and Boston to a high of 71 percent in West Virginia.(47) In nine of the sites, the hourly wage received by WtW enrollees on their primary job was such that more than one-third of them would have been living in poverty even if they had been working full time and receiving no government assistance. This finding is based on a measure of income that does not include the earned-income tax credit (EITC).

b. What Fringe Benefits Were Available to Them?

Overall, fringe benefits were available to only modest proportions of WtW enrollees on their principal job one year after entering the program (Exhibit IV.7). Consequently, the self-sufficiency of most enrollees, to the extent that they achieved it, was precarious  contingent on remaining healthy and continuing to work.

Paid sick leave was the most common, or tied for the most common, of three key fringe benefits in every study site, followed by a pension plan. Health insurance was the least common. Rates of availability of these three benefits ranged across the study sites as follows:(48)

  • Paid Sick Leave. The availability of paid sick leave ranged from a low of 25 percent in West Virginia to a high of 63 percent in Baltimore County.

  • Pension Plan. The availability of a pension plan ranged from a low of 24 percent in Chicago, West Virginia, and Yakima to a high of 54 percent in Boston.

  • Health Insurance.Participation in an employer's health insurance plan ranged from a low of 11 percent in Chicago to a high of 42 percent in Baltimore County.

In general, fringe benefits were available to employed enrollees at relatively low or high rates in the same study sites where wage rates were respectively relatively low or high. For example, in West Virginia, employed enrollees had the lowest mean wage rate and the lowest rates of availability of paid sick leave and a pension plan. And in Boston, where the mean wage rate was highest among the study sites, these two fringe benefits were available to relatively large proportions of employed enrollees.(49)

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