Employment Services

The federal welfare overhaul of 1996 ushered in myriad policy changes aimed at getting low-income parents off public assistance and into employment. These changes — especially cash welfare’s transformation from an entitlement into a time-limited benefit contingent on work participation — have intensified the need to help low-income families become economically self-...

Until recently, employment policy in the United Kingdom had been focused principally on helping people who had lost their jobs to find work. Although some government-sponsored measures were available to help those on the margins of employment retain their jobs and improve their earnings, there had been less support for people once they had found jobs. The launch of the...

For low-income youth who lack basic skills and drop out of school, finding employment at a living wage is a challenge. Developed by MDRC as a nonresidential alternative to Job Corps, JOBSTART was an unusual collaborative effort to help disadvantaged young people join the economic mainstream. The idea guiding this...

It is widely recognized that having no job or a job that pays a low wage puts people at risk of living in poverty. Less well known, though also well documented, are the dangers that low-wage work and unemployment pose to health by exposing people to physical hazards and psychological stressors that satisfactory employment could prevent. Lacking a good job can affect a...

Over the past two decades, poverty has become increasingly concentrated in the nation’s inner cities, while many employment opportunities — especially entry-level jobs for people with limited education and skills — have relocated to the urban periphery. Roughly eight million residents in the urban communities where poverty is most entrenched do not have access to jobs...

The wages and earnings of low-income workers have been stagnant or declining in real terms for approximately 35 years. Nationwide, the labor market-driven growth of the low-wage workforce has become a major issue for both the business community and the public. Low-wage workers represent a significant segment of the nation’s workforce: According to the Bureau of Labor...

Policy debates about child poverty and welfare reform, which once focused almost exclusively on single mothers and their children, have in recent years begun to train the spotlight on fathers. Fathers are important sources of financial and emotional support for their children, but noncustodial fathers with low incomes and poor job prospects often do not fulfill their...

Young people without postsecondary education or vocational credentials face an uphill battle in the competition for jobs. Though the economic boom of the 1990s cut youth unemployment by one-quarter, it failed to benefit African-American and Hispanic young people as much as their white counterparts, and youth who lacked a high school diploma were actually more likely to...

In the mid-1980s, three developments long in the making — a dramatic increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing, the high cost of providing welfare to young poor women who become mothers, and the difficulties faced by their children — became a focus of concern among policymakers and the public alike. Little was known at the time about how to help young mothers receiving...

A long-standing dilemma in welfare policy is that while cash benefits reduce poverty, they can also discourage low-income parents from supporting their families through work. Conversely, work requirements like those introduced in the 1996 federal welfare law encourage employment but — given that many welfare recipients command only low wages — can also leave families...

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