The Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Enrollee Outcomes One Year After Program Entry. Most Enrollees Obtained Jobs, but Pay Was Low and Rates of Job Loss Were High


Most WtW enrollees found jobs during the year following program entry. However, they tended to receive low wages and few fringe benefits and most of them left their initial jobs.

Enrollees who were employed worked a lot of hours but received low wages and few fringe benefits. In every study site, at least two-thirds of the enrollees who were employed one year after entering WtW were working 30 or more hours per week on their principal job. However, their hourly wage rate tended to be low, averaging between $7 and $8 per hour in most sites. If all employed enrollees had been consistently working 40 hours every week and had not been receiving any cash assistance through government programs, more than one-third would have been living in poverty in nine of the study sites. While low wages kept people in poverty, the scarcity of fringe benefits prolonged dependence on social welfare programs, most notably Medicaid. The proportion of enrollees who received health insurance benefits on their principal job exceeded 20 percent in only one of the study sites. Other fringe benefits, such as paid sick leave and a pension plan, were more common  nevertheless, fewer than half of employed enrollees received each of these benefits on their principal job in all but 9 of the 11 study sites.

Most individuals who enrolled in WtW subsequently obtained jobs, but their employment tended to be unstable. Roughly 5 to 25 percent of WtW enrollees in the non-JHU study sites were employed when they entered WtW. In contrast, much larger proportions  between 60 and 80 percent  were employed sometime during the year following enrollment. Thus, most WtW enrollees subsequently experienced some degree of success in the labor market, but they had trouble sustaining it. In the non-JHU sites, enrollees were employed for considerably less than half the year, on average; at the end of the year, about 40 percent of them were working for pay, an employment rate similar to that for adults nationwide who have left TANF.

The rate of job loss was high among WtW enrollees; however, many who left their initial job moved to a better one. Roughly two-thirds of WtW enrollees who became employed left their initial job within a year of entering the program. However, most of them found another, often better, job. In more than half of the study sites, job changers benefited from an increase in some positive job attribute: more fringe benefits, a higher wage rate, or more work hours.

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