Purpose and Background: This study aimed to test the effects of job access and neighborhood disadvantage on the employment success of female former welfare recipients. It mainly addressed vital policy concerns on employment issues of Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) recipients who exited cash assistance. This study was grounded on two theoretical perspectives: (1) the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis (SMH) that explained job access as a barrier to employment and (2) Wilson’s observation that neighborhood disadvantage negatively affected employment.
Method: As a non-experimental design, this longitudinal study merged two local administrative datasets with 2000 Census data. This study selected female former welfare recipients (N=13,788) (1) who exited cash assistance and were employed between 2000 and 2003, and (2) who resided in 405 census tracts of Cuyahoga County. Employment success was measured by: job retention, two-year employment, and average quarterly earnings. In addition to demographic and human capital variables, the independent variables that were measured: (1) individual job access (distances), (2) neighborhood public transportation access, and (3) neighborhood disadvantage. As a main analysis, Hierarchical Generalized Linear Model (HGLM) and Hierarchical Linear Model (HLM) were conducted to test the nested effects of job access and neighborhood disadvantage on employment success. Furthermore, this study used spatial analysis (mapping and spatial auto-correlation) to support the main analysis.
Results: This study found variances of the employment success among neighborhoods. The results showed that neighborhood disadvantage adversely affected the employment success of female former welfare recipients; however, shorter job distances and higher public transportation access only increased average quarterly earnings.
Discussion: The results suggested three domains for implication on social work programs and social policy: (1) neighborhood disadvantage, (2) individual job access and neighborhood public transportation access, and (3) cash assistance program and policy. In particular, this study recommended community development and residential programs should ameliorate the job access barriers and neighborhood disadvantage of welfare recipients. The implementation of cash assistance programs should consider the effects of job access and neighborhood disadvantage. (Author abstract)