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December 2009, Vol. 132, No. 12
Work-related activities of single mothers before and after welfare reform
Jeounghee Kim and Myungkook Joo
Jeounghee Kim and Myungkook Joo are assistant professors in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University. E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
When consistent measures are used to calculate data on paid employment and other work-related activities of single mothers on TANF, the resulting rates of employment and participation in work-related activities are higher than those initially reported.
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How much did single mothers on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) work after welfare reform? Has their work participation stopped increasing recently? Since the U.S. Federal Government established mandatory work requirements for most TANF recipients and minimum annual work participation rates for States in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996, welfare recipients' participation in work-related activities became the central issue among both policymakers and researchers. Under the law, an adult TANF recipient generally is required to participate in "core"1 and "supplementary"2 work activities for at least 30 hours per week.3 In response to PRWORA's requirement that recipients participate in work-related activities, there was a dramatic increase in adult welfare recipients' work activities, and the share of adults on Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or TANF who were engaged in work-related activities for at least 1 hour per week in a typical month rose from 22.4 percent in 1996 to 43.1 percent in 2001. Many supporters of welfare reform viewed this increase in work participation as strong evidence of the success of PRWORA. In 2002, however, the weekly work participation rate decreased to 41.7 percent and then went to 41.2 percent in 2003 as the country's economy struggled to recover from the 2001 recession.4
This excerpt is from an article published in the December 2009 issue of the Monthly Labor Review. The full text of the article is available in Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format (PDF). See How to view a PDF file for more information.
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1 The core activities are unsubsidized employment, subsidized employment, work experience (that is, work done for a position at which one is not paid, such as an unpaid internship), on-the-job training, job search and readiness assistance, community service programs, childcare for community service participants, and vocational educational training for up to 12 months. See 2004 Green Book: Background material and data on the programs within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Ways and Means (U.S. House of Representatives, March 2004). (This publication is hereafter referred as the 2004 Green Book.) Available online at www.gpoaccess.gov/wmprints/green/2004.html (visited Dec. 3, 2009).
2 Supplementary activities are allowed to be counted provided that the TANF recipient has participated in at least 20 hours of core activities. The supplementary activities are job skills training directly related to employment, education directly related to work, and satisfactory attendance in high school or an equivalency program (for people at least 20 years old). See the 2004 Green Book.
3 If an adult TANF recipient is the only parent or caretaker of a child under age 6, he or she needs to work only 20 hours per week. See the 2004 Green Book.4 See Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program: Annual Report to Congress (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families), various years (referred as TANF Annual Report to Congress, hereafter), on the Internet at www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/data-reports/index.htm (visited Dec. 3, 2009).
Work schedules of low-educated American women and welfare reform, The.—Apr. 1997.
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