Based on recent employment news, it seems certain that the American economy is now in recession. A major difference between this and previous recessions is that a much higher proportion of poor and low-income single mothers have joined the workforce in the past few years. In the past, many low-income single mothers were relatively protected from the effects of economic downturns because they could continue to receive welfare. Today, mothers who have left welfare and are working in low-wage jobs are more vulnerable to job loss and income loss during an economic downturn.
The Welfare Reform & Beyond initiative will hold a forum to examine the capacity of the current Unemployment Compensation and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) programs to respond to these economic changes and to explore policy options that could help poor and low-income working mothers during this and future recessions.
After a brief summary of the status of the American economy by Robert E. Litan and of provisions in the Unemployment Compensation and TANF programs designed to help unemployed workers by Harry Holzer, we have invited two panels to address the question: “Do the Unemployment Compensation and TANF Programs Offer Adequate Protection to Low-Income Workers Facing Unemployment?” The first panel will include two members of Congress; the second will include representatives from states, organized labor, business, research, and the Bush Administration.