Unemployment Insurance and Low-Educated Single Working, Mothers Before and After Welfare Reform


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

During the 1990s, low-educated single mothers left cash welfare and increased their labor force participation at unprecedented rates (Blank 2006). A number of factors contributed to these dramatic changes: the 1996 welfare reform, the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and the economic expansion of the late 1990s (Ellwood 2000; Meyer and Rosenbaum 2001). An important question is the extent to which increased work effort by low-educated single mothers who experience job loss has translated into increased access to unemployment insurance (UI). Spurred by recent research conducted at the Upjohn Institute that focuses on UI receipt among former TANF recipients (O’Leary and Kline 2008), the current study addresses three questions about the UI utilization of low-educated single mothers: 1) Has the large growth in labor force participation among adult single mothers since the early 1990s been accompanied by a growth in UI participation by this population when they experience a spell of unemployment? 2) Has eligibility for UI changed over time for this group, and are nonmonetary or monetary eligibility requirements now more important? 3) Has the relative importance of three major income support programs—UI, the Food Stamp Program, and cash welfare—changed for single mothers who enter a spell of unemployment?

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