How Families that Left Welfare are Doing

Research Report

How Families that Left Welfare are Doing

A National Picture
August 1, 1999

Abstract

This brief shows that in the early period after welfare reform, many former recipients are working and working full-time. They are generally finding relatively low-wage entry-level jobs with few benefits. Also, fewer welfare leavers are participating in Medicaid and food stamps than might be expected. When compared to the much larger group of working poor families with children who have not received welfare, former recipients look very similar. They work at about the same rate, at the same type of jobs, and at the same wage rates. Even though former recipients have similar earnings to their peers who never received cash assistance, they report more struggles making ends meet. A third to half faced serious struggles providing food for their families, and about one in five had problems paying for housing. The similarity of former recipients employment situations to other non-welfare poor families suggests that programs to support work need to focus broadly on both groups. But the continuing struggles of former recipients suggest they may continue to need help transitioning toward self-sufficiency.

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