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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: O'Leary, Christopher J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2015

    In this paper I examine the rates at which adults in households recently receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) become jobless, apply for and receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and participate in publicly funded employment services. I also investigate the correlation of UI and employment services receipt with maintenance of self-sufficiency through return to work and independence from TANF. The analysis is based on person-level administrative program records from four of the nine largest states between 1997 and 2003. Evidence suggests that three-quarters of new TANF leavers experience joblessness within three years, and one-quarter of the newly jobless apply for UI benefits. About 87 percent of UI applicants have sufficient prior earnings to qualify for UI benefits; however, only about 44 percent qualify based on their job separation reasons. Among all UI applicants, TANF leavers were found to have much higher rates of voluntary quits and employer dismissals than non-TANF leavers. Nonetheless, 50 percent of TANF leavers who apply for UI ultimately...

    In this paper I examine the rates at which adults in households recently receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) become jobless, apply for and receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, and participate in publicly funded employment services. I also investigate the correlation of UI and employment services receipt with maintenance of self-sufficiency through return to work and independence from TANF. The analysis is based on person-level administrative program records from four of the nine largest states between 1997 and 2003. Evidence suggests that three-quarters of new TANF leavers experience joblessness within three years, and one-quarter of the newly jobless apply for UI benefits. About 87 percent of UI applicants have sufficient prior earnings to qualify for UI benefits; however, only about 44 percent qualify based on their job separation reasons. Among all UI applicants, TANF leavers were found to have much higher rates of voluntary quits and employer dismissals than non-TANF leavers. Nonetheless, 50 percent of TANF leavers who apply for UI ultimately receive benefits. Public employment services are used by one-quarter of newly jobless TANF leavers. Among UI applicants, more than 75 percent use public employment services whether they receive UI benefits or not, while only 14 percent of newly jobless TANF leavers who do not apply for UI choose to use public employment services. Among TANF leavers who become jobless and apply for UI, the rate of return to TANF is lower for those who receive UI benefits. Rates of return to TANF are highest among nonbeneficiary UI applicants and non-UI applicants with low recent earnings. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hodges, Leslie; Men, Fei
    Reference Type: Conference Paper
    Year: 2018

    In February of 2018, 6.7 million American workers were unemployed. Of these workers, one in four had been unemployed for more than half a year (BLS, 2018). Unemployment has been linked to numerous negative outcomes, including increased risk of poverty and of material hardships. A major goal of the Federal-State Unemployment Compensation Program (UI) is to protect individuals and their households against the economic risks associated with unemployment. By providing weekly cash benefits to displaced workers while they search for new jobs, we expect that UI would help households to meet basic needs and act as a buffer against economic hardships. However, with a few exceptions, the prior literature has not paid a great deal of attention to the effects of UI on poverty and material well-being.

    One reason for this lack of attention is that studies interested in identifying optimal benefit levels and optimal program size have primarily focused on how UI affects the behaviors of workers and firms. Another possible reason is that UI is not targeted towards the poor, and helping...

    In February of 2018, 6.7 million American workers were unemployed. Of these workers, one in four had been unemployed for more than half a year (BLS, 2018). Unemployment has been linked to numerous negative outcomes, including increased risk of poverty and of material hardships. A major goal of the Federal-State Unemployment Compensation Program (UI) is to protect individuals and their households against the economic risks associated with unemployment. By providing weekly cash benefits to displaced workers while they search for new jobs, we expect that UI would help households to meet basic needs and act as a buffer against economic hardships. However, with a few exceptions, the prior literature has not paid a great deal of attention to the effects of UI on poverty and material well-being.

    One reason for this lack of attention is that studies interested in identifying optimal benefit levels and optimal program size have primarily focused on how UI affects the behaviors of workers and firms. Another possible reason is that UI is not targeted towards the poor, and helping workers and their households reach or maintain a certain level of economic well-being is not an explicit goal. As a result, there may be less scrutiny of whether the UI program makes participants better off compared to means-tested programs such as SNAP and TANF.

    Nevertheless, from our perspective, poverty and material hardship measures are particularly appealing for examining the effects of UI participation. First, determining optimal benefit levels requires identifying behavioral distortions and identifying what prior studies call the “beneficial insurance effect," such as knowing how UI receipt affects household income and household consumption of goods and services. Second, UI participation among individuals in or near poverty has received greater attention following welfare reform in the mid-90s and following historical rates of unemployment during the Great Recession. However, by focusing only on the poverty effects of UI, we would be ignoring the effects that the program might have on the economic well-being of households who are not in poverty, and we would be assuming that having a certain income level is synonymous with being able to meet basic needs.

    In order to examine whether receipt of UI benefits reduces poverty and material hardships, we use data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and bivariate probit regression analysis to model jointly the probability of UI benefit receipt and the probability of experiencing poverty and of experiencing housing, utility, food, and medical hardships. In order to account for unobserved differences between individuals who receive UI benefits while unemployed and those who do not, our models include state UI policies as instrumental variables. Similar to prior studies, our preliminary results suggest that UI receipt has a substantial negative effect on poverty, and that UI receipt reduces food insecurity, but not other hardships. By examining UI's effects on economic well-being this study contributes to current understanding of how the program is meeting the needs of workers in the modern economy. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Yang, Edith; Hendra, Richard
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2018

    Background: The high costs of implementing surveys are increasingly leading research teams to either cut back on surveys or to rely on administrative records. Yet no policy should be based on a single set of estimates, and every approach has its weaknesses. A mixture of approaches, each with its own biases, should provide the analyst with a better understanding of the underlying phenomenon. This claim is illustrated with a comparison of employment effect estimates of two conditional cash transfer programs in New York City using survey and administrative unemployment insurance (UI) data. Objectives: This article explores whether using administrative data and survey data produce different impact estimates and investigates the source of differential effects between data sources. Research design: The results of a survey nonresponse bias analysis and an analysis of characteristics of non-UI-covered job characteristics using data collected on 6,000 families who enrolled in either the Family Rewards or Work Rewards evaluation are...

    Background: The high costs of implementing surveys are increasingly leading research teams to either cut back on surveys or to rely on administrative records. Yet no policy should be based on a single set of estimates, and every approach has its weaknesses. A mixture of approaches, each with its own biases, should provide the analyst with a better understanding of the underlying phenomenon. This claim is illustrated with a comparison of employment effect estimates of two conditional cash transfer programs in New York City using survey and administrative unemployment insurance (UI) data. Objectives: This article explores whether using administrative data and survey data produce different impact estimates and investigates the source of differential effects between data sources. Research design: The results of a survey nonresponse bias analysis and an analysis of characteristics of non-UI-covered job characteristics using data collected on 6,000 families who enrolled in either the Family Rewards or Work Rewards evaluation are presented. Results: In both evaluations, survey data showed positive employment effects, while administrative data showed no statistically significant employment effects. Family Rewards increased employment mostly in non-UI-covered jobs, while the positive survey impact estimates in Work Rewards were partially due to survey nonresponse bias. Conclusions: Despite cost pressures leading researchers to collect and analyze only administrative records, the results suggest that survey and administrative records data both suffer from different kinds of sample attrition, and researchers may need to triangulate data sources to draw accurate conclusions about program effects. Developing more economical data collection practices is a major priority (Author abstract).

  • Individual Author: Woodbury, Stephen A.
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2014

    Unemployment insurance (UI) provides temporary income support to workers who have lost their jobs and are seeking reemployment. This paper reviews the origins of the federal-state UI system in the United States and outlines its principles and goals. It also describes the conditions for benefit eligibility, the benefits themselves, and their financing through the UI payroll tax. The UI system is complex and includes many interested parties, including employers, worker advocates, state UI administrators, and the federal government. These parties’ differing views have led to controversies over benefit eligibility, adequacy, and whether the states or federal government should bear primary responsibility for UI. The Great Recession caused most states’ UI trust funds to become insolvent and has led to renewed debate over the structure and financing of the system. (Author abstract)

    Unemployment insurance (UI) provides temporary income support to workers who have lost their jobs and are seeking reemployment. This paper reviews the origins of the federal-state UI system in the United States and outlines its principles and goals. It also describes the conditions for benefit eligibility, the benefits themselves, and their financing through the UI payroll tax. The UI system is complex and includes many interested parties, including employers, worker advocates, state UI administrators, and the federal government. These parties’ differing views have led to controversies over benefit eligibility, adequacy, and whether the states or federal government should bear primary responsibility for UI. The Great Recession caused most states’ UI trust funds to become insolvent and has led to renewed debate over the structure and financing of the system. (Author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Leung, Pauline; O'Leary, Christopher J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2015

    Recent efforts to expand unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility are expected to increase low-earning workers’ access to UI. Although the expansion’s aim is to smooth the income and consumption of previously ineligible workers, it is possible that UI benefits simply displace other sources of income. Standard economic models predict that UI delays reemployment, thereby reducing wage income. Additionally, low-earning workers are often eligible for benefits from means-tested programs, which may decrease with UI benefits. In this paper, we estimate the impact of UI eligibility on employment, means-tested program participation, and income after job loss using a unique individual-level administrative data set from the state of Michigan. To identify a causal effect, we implement a fuzzy regression discontinuity design around the minimum earnings threshold for UI eligibility. Our main finding is that while UI eligibility increases jobless durations by up to 25 percent and temporarily lowers receipt of cash assistance (TANF) by 63 percent, the net impact on total income is still positive...

    Recent efforts to expand unemployment insurance (UI) eligibility are expected to increase low-earning workers’ access to UI. Although the expansion’s aim is to smooth the income and consumption of previously ineligible workers, it is possible that UI benefits simply displace other sources of income. Standard economic models predict that UI delays reemployment, thereby reducing wage income. Additionally, low-earning workers are often eligible for benefits from means-tested programs, which may decrease with UI benefits. In this paper, we estimate the impact of UI eligibility on employment, means-tested program participation, and income after job loss using a unique individual-level administrative data set from the state of Michigan. To identify a causal effect, we implement a fuzzy regression discontinuity design around the minimum earnings threshold for UI eligibility. Our main finding is that while UI eligibility increases jobless durations by up to 25 percent and temporarily lowers receipt of cash assistance (TANF) by 63 percent, the net impact on total income is still positive and large. In the quarter immediately following job loss, UI-eligible workers have 46-61 percent higher incomes than ineligibles. (Author abstract)

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