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Frequently Asked Questions about Working Welfare Leavers

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Publication Date: November 2001

Publisher(s): Center for Law and Social Policy

Author(s): Elise Richer; Steve Savner; Mark Greenberg

Special Collection: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Topic: Social conditions (Public welfare and social services)

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Numerous research initiatives have been undertaken to answer a broad range of questions about how state implementation of TANF has affected families. One set of research projects has involved gathering information about families who stop receiving welfare, commonly referred to as welfare "leavers." We use information from over 30 of these studies to answer a set of frequently asked questions about the employment experience of welfare leavers.

We find that across the states, conditions appear fairly consistent, with one-half to three-quarters of leavers employed at any given point after they leave welfare. Despite their employment, many working welfare leavers continue to struggle economically, working in low-paying jobs and sectors, earning relatively little, often working intermittently, and not always receiving full benefits.