Timing Out: Long-Term Welfare Caseloads in Large Cities and Counties

Alan Berube and Margy Waller
Margy Waller Visiting Fellow, Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy, The Brookings Institution

September 1, 2002

This report analyzing caseload data as of the end of 2001 establishes for the first time that long-term welfare cases are located disproportionately in urban areas, in some places to a tremendous degree. While only 33 percent of state residents live in the urban counties we surveyed, those counties were home to over half of their state’s welfare cases facing a federal time limit, and an astounding 71 percent of their state’s long-term cases facing the time limit. We conclude this report with a set of national policy recommendations for welfare reauthorization that address the needs of welfare recipients in the places where they live, and that recognize while many long-term recipients face significant barriers to work, others are working but not earning enough to leave welfare.