Working after welfare: how women balance jobs and family in the wake of welfare reform
Seefeldt, Kristin. 2008. Working after welfare: how women balance jobs and family in the wake of welfare reform. Kalamazoo: W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
An outcome of the 1996 welfare reforms is the increase in single mothers who entered the workforce. With the receipt of benefits now contingent upon looking for and securing a job, many who would have stayed home with their children had to take jobs instead. How to balance work and family issues is a major issue for women, but especially so for single mothers who were formerly on welfare. This book, using the findings of the Women's Employment Study, offers insights into the lives of women in an urban Michigan county who left welfare for work and the role their family decisions play in their labor market decisions. For many, once they managed a balance between family and work responsibilities, they chose to remain in a job or forego additional schooling even if it meant stagnant or slow wage growth, for fear of interrupting their children's schedules or because of an unwillingness to spend less time with their families. The author discusses the existing policies and programs aimed at assisting low-wage workers and welfare recipients, and, based on qualitative evidence from the WES, the limitations of some of these approaches. She proposes some policies to expand the current government focus, from one aimed at supporting work to one aimed at supporting workers. This can be accomplished, she says, by creating a more flexible workplace and working hours, more accessible educational opportunities, and basic universal health care.