Date

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Department

Sociology

First Adviser

Zhang, Yuping

Other advisers/committee members

Ochs, Holona; Munson, Ziad

Abstract

Previous studies on employment outcomes of welfare recipients partaking in welfare-to-work (WTW) programs regularly overlook essential elements highly pertinent to job outcomes of such individuals. Based on demographic characteristics of participants within WTW programs, little research has analyzed how employment outcomes vary across program enrollees. Additionally, only a small share of past inquiries on WTW programs have taken into account the question of whether employment outcomes of welfare recipients offer wages enough to reach self-sufficiency within specific geographical locations. Using three years of participant data (2013 - 2016) taken from “FINDWORK”, a Pennsylvania WTW program located in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton Pennsylvania-New Jersey (ABE PA-NJ) metropolitan area, this exploratory analysis examined employment outcomes of welfare recipients previously enrolled in this service. Assessments of employment outcomes focused on the employment statuses, hourly wages, total weekly wages, living wage statuses and occupation types attained by FINDWORK participants. Additionally, to gauge whether program enrollees achieved employment adequate to reach self-sufficiency in the ABE PA-NJ metropolitan region, this study deployed geographic specific living wage results for this area derived from Glasmeier’s (2014) “Living Wage Calculator” (LWC). The results of this exploratory study ascertained that women, the less educated, long-term welfare recipients, and Spanish-speaking participants all experienced significantly inferior employment outcomes compared to their group counterpart. This study also revealed the need to strengthen the educational attainment levels of future FINDWORK participants, including the need to ensure women share equal opportunities as men to obtain employment across a wide array of jobs within private labor markets.

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Sociology Commons

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