ETI Publications

Document Type

Technical Paper

Publication Date



This paper, one of a series of studies exploring employment myths and realities surrounding welfare reform initiatives, examines job availability and the experience of single mothers in Milwaukee County who have received Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). The analysis is informed by several unique data sources available to researchers at the Employment and Training Institute of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee: (1) semi-annual surveys of thousands of employers in the Milwaukee metro area identifying available jobs, their pay level, location and education and training prerequisites; (2) surveys of central city Milwaukee families regarding their search for employment, barriers faced, interests in job training, and assessment of available support services; (3) matches of institutional files of AFDC, food stamp and medical assistance family data with quarterly reports of wages paid Wisconsin workers, Milwaukee County child care subsidies, and Department of Transportation vehicle registration and driver's license files; and (4) a Milwaukee Area Technical College in-depth assessment of the employment readiness, skills and child care needs of 1,550 mothers with children under age one who received AFDC in Milwaukee County and will be expected to find employment under Wisconsin's new welfare policies. The findings challenge two common misperceptions of the state’s “welfare to work" policies: first, that most parents on welfare are not employed and in many cases (i.e., "intergenerational welfare families") have never been employed, and secondly, that most parents leaving welfare have moved from unemployment to "a job" which provides them a better standard of living.