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Journal Issue: Welfare to Work Volume 7 Number 1 Spring 1997

Welfare Recipients' Job Skills and Employment Prospects
Gary T. Burtless

Summary

The welfare reform goal of moving mothers who rely on welfare into private-sector employment cannot be achieved only by changes in public policy. Employment rates reflect the job qualifications of individuals, obstacles to work outside the home, the attractiveness of available jobs, and the capacity of the labor market to absorb new workers at particular skill levels. This article examines how each of these factors is likely to influence current welfare recipients' success in finding employment and the wages they are likely to earn. The author concludes that the skill deficiencies of recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children do not represent an insurmountable barrier to employment, although these deficiencies do restrict the wages recipients can earn. Without continued public assistance in the form of wage subsidies, child care payments, or help securing health insurance, most families that move from welfare to work will remain below the poverty level.