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Research Update

Welfare Policy Evaluations and Impact Studies

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute works with local governments and schools in Milwaukee County to assess the impact of state and federal welfare policies on families receiving AFDC/W-2. Policy papers discuss critical issues for integrating Milwaukee County welfare populations into the labor force and profile the employment needs of working families with incomes below poverty and the welfare population expected to work in this urban county.

History of Work Programs for Families on Relief

Welfare Evaluations for the Wisconsin Legislature

The Employment and Training Institute was selected by the State of Wisconsin to evaluate two major welfare reform programs initiated in the late 1980s when Wisconsin showed major drops in AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) caseloads. These experiments included:

  1. A Community Work Experience Program (CWEP) to test the effectiveness of mandatory workfare programs and a comprehensive Work Experience and Job Training program (WEJT) including remedial education, job search, subsidized employment, job training, day care and supportive services, following by mandatory work.

  2. A Learnfare policy which reduced AFDC grants for families of teenagers not attending school regularly.

The welfare employment program evaluation utilized experimental and quasi-experimental designs to measure changes in family earnings and AFDC caseloads in 31 Wisconsin counties initiating new programs. The Learnfare evaluation utilized school attendance records on over 50,000 teenagers to measure the impact of Learnfare in six school districts, including Milwaukee.

FULL REPORTS are available for 4 of the evaluation reports to the Wisconsin Legislature, as scanned documents (in PDF):

The following SUMMARIES are also available:

Graphs of Caseload Trends and Unemployment Rates: 1986-1998

The Employment and Training Institute has prepared graphs of AFDC/W-2 caseloads and unemployment rates by County for the period from July 1986 through December 1998 when Wisconsin implemented its welfare reform initiatives. The graphs show the monthly unemployment rates and AFDC (and "W-2"TANF support) caseloads for each of Wisconsin's 72 counties.

The Employment and Training Institute evaluations of Wisconsin welfare reform efforts during the period from 1987-1991 showed the strong impact of a rapidly improving labor market, which accounted for most of the caseload reduction during the 1986-1991 period. Additional months of data are presented for the period 1991-1998, but statistical testing has not been conducted for this most recent period.


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Updated 2014
Employment and Training Institute
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
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