Economic recovery from the Great Recession has been slow for families with very low incomes. Those with incomes at the very bottom have only experienced two years of household income growth, rising 9% to $13,608 in 2016. Comparatively, middle-income families have had five years of growth with an increase of 11% to just over $59,000. Middle-income families now have earnings higher than their pre-recession levels, while those at the bottom still have not fully recovered. Given these low earnings and slow growth, it is important to examine those families who may have required additional support through Maryland’s Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) program.
The annual report series, Life after Welfare, examines outcomes of families who left cash assistance. The series focuses on families’ characteristics, employment and earnings outcomes, and the receipt of other public benefits. The 2017 update includes a sample of 12,597 families who left the TCA program between January 2004 and March 2017. We examine trends through the lens of three different cohorts: (a) Mid-2000s Recovery—a declining caseload between January 2004 and March 2007; (b) Great Recession Era—an increasing caseload between April 2007 and December 2011; and (c) Great Recession Recovery—a declining caseload between January 2012 and March 2017.
The main findings from this report indicate that families’ financial situations improved after exiting the TCA program, compared with their circumstances before they came onto the program. Nonetheless, these families struggle to rise above poverty and maintain independence from cash assistance. (Author abstract)