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Characteristics and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients, Fiscal Year 2010

Published: August 8, 2012
Audience:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Topics:
Data Collection and Reporting, Characteristic and Financial Circumstances of TANF Recipients
Types:
Data Document

X. CHARACTERISTICS AND FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES
OF TANF RECIPIENTS

States spend considerable shares of their TANF funds on families who receive benefits and services other than traditional assistance. The data discussed in this chapter are limited to those who received assistance at some time during FY 2010 given that States only report detailed data on traditional assistance.

The FY 2010 data referenced in this report were obtained from a statistically valid sample of TANF and Separate State Program-Maintenance of Effort (SSP-MOE) cases within the national TANF/SSP-MOE database. Data are presented for all States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands (hereafter referred to as States).

States are required to collect monthly TANF data and report them to HHS quarterly. These data include disaggregated case record information on the families receiving assistance, families no longer receiving assistance, and families newly-approved for assistance from programs funded by TANF funds.

Tables 10:60 through 10:74 in the Appendix contain data on SSP-MOE recipient characteristics for the 17 States that reported on their SSP-MOE families. SSP-MOE eligible families may be quite different among the 17 States, as well as within a State where there are multiple SSP-MOE programs.

Under the TANF data reporting system, States have the option to submit either sample data or universe data to HHS.  Thirty-two States submitted universe data, from which HHS randomly selected approximately 275 active cases and 100 closed cases each month from each State to analyze.  The remaining 22 States submitted sample data.  A total sample of 217,157 active cases and 67,273 closed cases was used to compile the tables describing TANF recipient characteristics.  The statistical data are estimates derived from samples and are therefore subject to sampling and non-sampling errors, and because of this they may differ from data presented in other parts of the report. Statistical specifications can be found under the section titled "Reliability of Estimates."

Trends in AFDC/TANF Characteristics

TANF Families

The average monthly number of TANF families was 1,847,155 in FY 2010.  The estimated average monthly number of TANF recipients was 1,084,828 adults and 3,280,153 children.  The average monthly number of TANF families increased in 47 States and reflects an overall seven percent increase from 1,726,560 families in FY 2009.  California had the largest number of TANF families in FY 2010 with a monthly average of 576,150, accounting for 31 percent of the U.S. total.  New York ranked second with an average monthly caseload of 121,240.  Ohio ranked third with a monthly average of 103, 000. California, New York and Ohio had a combined monthly average of 800,400, accounting for 43.3 percent of U.S. totals. The average number of persons in TANF families was 2.4, including an average of 1.8 recipient children.  One in two recipient families had only one child.  Less than eight percent of families had more than three children.  The average number of children in closed-case families was 1.8.  Nearly one in two closed-case families had one child, and only seven percent had more than three children.

Almost half of TANF families had no adult recipients.  About 49 percent of TANF families had only one adult recipient, and 5 percent included two or more adult recipients.  In 23 States, the District of Columbia and two Territories, there were no two-parent family cases aided with Federal TANF funds or State MOE funds.  Some of these States served two-parent families with State funds that were not claimed toward the MOE requirement (i.e., in solely State-funded programs).

Eighty-two percent of TANF families received SNAP benefits in FY 2010, which is consistent with previous levels.  These families received average monthly SNAP benefits of $378.  In addition, 97 percent of TANF families received medical assistance in FY 2010.  Of closed-case families, 81 percent received SNAP benefits in the month of closure and 95 percent received medical assistance in the month of closure.

Figure A illustrates the reasons for case closure in FY 2010.  However, understanding the reasons for case closure is limited by the fact that States reported 21.6 percent of all cases as closed due to “other” unspecified reasons.  For example, while independent studies have typically found that half or more of families that stop receiving assistance leave as a result of employment, States reported only 16.6 percent of cases closing due to employment.  Many closures due to employment are coded as failure to cooperate or as some other category because at the point of closure, the agency often is unaware that the client became employed. 

Characteristics FY 2010 - Figure A

The percentage of African-American TANF families has slowly decreased since 2001, and the percentage of TANF Hispanic families has increased since 2004.  The trends in the racial/ethnic composition of TANF families since 2000 are presented in Table A.

 

Table A

Trend in TANF Families by Race/Ethnicity
FY 2000 - FY 2010
 

 

White

Black or African American

Hispanic*

2000

31.2%

38.6%

25.0%

2001

30.1%

39.0%

26.0%

2002

31.6%

38.3%

24.9%

2003

31.8%

38.0%

24.8%

2004

32.9%

37.6%

24.1%

2005

32.1%

37.1%

25.5%

2006

33.4%

35.7%

26.1%

2007

32.4%

35.5%

27.0%

2008

31.5%

34.2%

28.0%

2009

31.2%

33.3%

28.8%

2010

31.8%

31.9%

30.0%

*Can be of Any Race
Source: Appendix Table 10:8

 

Child-Only Families

The number of child-only families (those where no adult is receiving assistance) reached a peak of 978,000 families in FY 1996.  In FY 2000, the number of child-only families had decreased to 782,000, but their proportion of the caseload had increased significantly to 34.5 percent from 21.5 percent in FY 1996.  In the early 2000s, both the number of child-only families and their proportion of the caseload increased.  Later in the decade, the number of child-only families began to decrease; yet, the proportion of the total caseload continued to increase.  This trend changed in FY 2009 and FY2010 when there was an increase in the numbers of child only cases. When comparing FY2010 to FY2009, there was a decrease of two percentage points in the child-only proportion of the total caseload (see Table B).   In FY 2010, there were about 854,800 child-only cases, which accounted for 46.3 percent of the total caseload.

 

Table B

Trend in Proportion of TANF Child-Only Cases
FY 2000 - FY 2010

Fiscal Year

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Child-Only Cases

782

787

803

830

864

870

851

823

819

831

855

Percent of Total Caseload

34.5%

37.2%

38.9%

40.8%

43.5%

45.3%

47.1%

48.4%

50.3%

48.1%

46.3%

Source: Appendix Table 1:3
*Numbers in Thousands

Of the total families with no adult recipients, over half had a parent living in the household but not receiving benefits.  These parents did not receive benefits for a number of reasons, including receipt of SSI benefit, an unknown citizenship/alienage status, or a sanction status for failure to comply with work requirements, attend school, or cooperate with child support.  Figure B illustrates the reasons that parents who are living in the household are not included in the assistance unit, as a percentage of all child-only families.

Characteristic FY 2010 - Figure B

TANF Adults

There were about 2.04 million adults living in TANF households in FY 2010.  Of all those adults, 53.1 percent were TANF recipients which show some increase when compared to FY2009 adults in TANF households.  Of those not receiving assistance, 68.7  percent were parents, 29 percent were non-parent caretakers, and 2.3 percent were other persons whose income was considered in determining eligibility (see Appendix Table 10:9).

Most TANF adult recipients were women, as men only represented 14.8 percent of adult recipients.  Ninety percent of adult recipients were the head of the household.  There were about 94,800 teen parents whose child also was a member of the TANF family, representing 12 percent of recipients aged 13-19.  Fourteen percent of adult recipients were married and living together.  The number of married adult recipients was low because many States moved two-parent families to SSF or SSP-MOE programs.

About two of three TANF adult recipients were members of minority groups.  Thirty-seven percent of adult recipients were white, 33 percent were African-American, 24 percent were Hispanic, 2.4 percent were Asian, and 1.2 percent were Native American.  Most TANF adult recipients were U.S. citizens.  There were about 75,900 non-citizens (i.e., 7 percent of TANF adults) residing legally in this country who met the other immigrant eligibility criteria for assistance.  Table C displays the trend in adult TANF recipients by age group from FY 2000 through FY 2010.

 

Table C

Trend in TANF Adult Recipients by Age Group
FY 2002 - 2010

 

Under 20

20-29

30-39

Over 39

2000

7.1%

42.5%

32.1%

18.3%

2001

7.4%

42.4%

31.2%

19.0%

2002

7.5%

44.9%

29.9%

17.7%

2003

7.7%

46.8%

28.7%

16.8%

2004

7.4%

47.6%

28.2%

16.8%

2005

7.3%

47.1%

28.1%

17.4%

2006

7.2%

48.5%

26.8%

17.5%

2007

7.3%

48.7%

27.0%

17.0%

2008

7.3%

50.1%

26.4%

16.1%

2009

8.0%

50.0%

26.0%

16.0%

2010

7.9%

51.3%

25.4%

15.4%

Source: Appendix Table 10:19

In FY 2010, work participation was mandatory for three of every five adult recipients. Overall, 41.6 percent of all TANF adult recipients participated in some type of work activity during the reporting month. Eleven percent of TANF adult recipients met work activity requirements by either being a teen parent attending school or being a single parent with a child under 6 participating for 20 hours per week (parents with children ages 6 and over are required to participate for 30 hours per week).  Additionally, ten percent of adult recipients were disregarded from work participation because they were single custodial parents with a child less than 12 months old.  1.6 percent were exempt because of a sanction, 12.6 percent were exempt because of a good cause exception (e.g., disabled, in poor health, or other), and  two percent of adult recipients were exempt from the work participation requirements because they were single custodial parents with a child under age six who did not have access to child care.

Among all TANF adult recipients twenty-nine percent worked in unsubsidized or subsidized jobs, 10.9 percent were engaged in job training or educational activities, 8.1 percent participated in job search activities, and another 4.1 percent were engaged in other statutorily listed work activities.  Some TANF adults were involved in two or three work activities.  Those participating did so for an average of 23.3 hours per week, and some adults participated even though they were work exempt.

TANF Children

More than seventy four percent of recipient children were under 11 year-old.  Sixteen percent under two years of age, while 28 percent were between the ages of two and five.  Less than 10 percent of the children were 16 years of age or older. Table D displays the trend in TANF recipient children by age group from FY 2000 through FY 2010.

 

Table D

Trend in TANF Recipient Children by Age Group
FY 2002 - FY 2010
 

 

Under 2

2-5

6-11

12-15

16-19

2000

13.1%

25.6%

36.2%

17.4%

7.6%

2001

13.4%

24.9%

35.8%

18.4%

7.5%

2002

14.6%

25.1%

34.4%

18.3%

7.6%

2003

14.6%

25.4%

33.4%

18.8%

7.7%

2004

14.7%

25.7%

32.2%

19.4%

8.0%

2005

14.5%

25.0%

31.8%

19.9%

8.8%

2006

14.5%

25.5%

31.1%

19.7%

9.2%

2007

15.4%

25.3%

30.5%

19.2%

9.5%

2008

16.0%

25.5%

30.4%

18.5%

9.5%

2009

16.1%

26.9%

29.9%

17.9%

9.2%

2010

16.0%

28.0%

30.1%

16.7%

9.2%

Source: Appendix Table 10:33

Most recipient children were children of the head of the household in TANF families, and only 9.8 percent were grandchildren of the head of the household.  Of all recipient children in TANF families with no adult recipients, 70 percent lived with parents and 20.1 percent with grandparents who did not themselves receive assistance.  Most TANF recipient children were U.S. citizens, and only 1.5 percent were qualified aliens.

Hispanic children comprised 34.7 percent of recipient children in FY 2010; while 31.4 percent of TANF recipient children were African American, and 27.1 percent were white. 

Financial Circumstances

The average monthly amount of assistance for TANF recipient families was $392 in FY 2010.  Monthly cash payments to TANF families averaged $327 for one child, $412 for two children, $497 for three children, and $594 for four or more children.  Some TANF families who were not employed received other forms of assistance such as child care, transportation and other supportive services.

In FY 2010, about 17 percent of TANF families had non-TANF income.  The average monthly amount of non-TANF income for those with non-TANF income was $720 per family.  Twelve percent of the TANF families had earned income with an average monthly amount of $823, while 6.5 percent of the TANF families had unearned income with an average monthly amount of $435.  Of all closed-case families, 31.5 percent had non-TANF income with an average monthly amount of $1,009 in the month the case closed.

Of TANF adult recipient, 20.5 percent had earned income with an average monthly amount of $805.  5.4 percent of adult recipients had unearned income averaging about $440* per month, and less than three percent of recipient children had unearned income with an average monthly amount of $315.

Nine percent of TANF families received child support in FY 2010, with an average monthly amount of $206.  Ten percent of TANF families had some cash resources (e.g., cash on hand, bank accounts, or certificates of deposit) with an average amount of $215.  States define what counts toward cash resources for purposes of eligibility determinations.

Employment Rate

The employment rate of adult recipients increased significantly during the 1990s.  The employment rate went from 6.6 percent in FY 1992 to 27.6 percent in FY 1999, reflecting both increases in employment and changes in state earnings disregard rules that affected whether an adult entering employment remained eligible for assistance.  After this peak in FY 1999, the rate declined to 21.6 percent in 2006 and then rose back to 25.9 percent in FY 2008 but dropped to 23.5 percent in FY2009.  In FY 2010, the employment rate of adult recipients dropped another one percentage points to 22.3 percent (See Table E).  There was a slight difference of the employment rate between male recipients (25.1%) and female recipients (21.8%).  In closed-case families, 23.7 percent of adults were employed in the month that the case closed, which is about one percentage points lower than in FY2009.

It is important to note that the employment data presented here is somewhat different from those presented in the “Work Participation Rates” and “Work and Earnings” sections of the report.  The data presented here represents the labor market status of adult TANF recipients and classifies individuals as employed, not employed, or not in the labor force.  Data presented elsewhere displays the type of work activities TANF adults are participating in using additional activity categories.

 

 

Employment Rate

Table E

Trend in Employment Rate of TANF Adult Recipients
FY 1992 - FY 2010

1992

6.6%

1993

6.9%

1994

8.3%

1995

9.3%

1996

11.3%

1997

13.2%2

1998

22.8%

1999

27.6%

2000

26.4%

2001

26.7%

2002

25.3%

2003

22.9%

2004

22.0%

2005

23.2%

2006

21.6%

2007

24.9%

2008

25.9%

2009

23.5%

2010

22.3%

2Based on AFDC data from the first three quarters of FY 1997

Source: National Integrated Quality Control System, Emergency TANF Data Report, TANF Data Report

Reliability of Estimates

In cases where a few States submitted questionable data, the data from those States were eliminated.  In cases where States reported large numbers in “unknown” or “other” categories, HHS urges caution in drawing conclusions on the basis of the data.
The statistical data are estimates derived from samples and, therefore, are subject to sampling errors as well as nonsampling errors.  Sampling errors occur to the extent that the results would have been different if obtained from a complete enumeration of all cases.  Nonsampling errors are errors in response or coding of responses and nonresponse errors or incomplete sample frames.

Standard (Sampling) Errors

For FY 2010, the average monthly caseload, annual sample sizes, average monthly sample sizes, sampling fractions and the percentage points by which estimates of the total caseload for each State might vary from the true value at the 95 percent confidence level are shown in Table 10:76 and 10:77.
Table 10:78 indicates the approximate standard error for various percentages for the U.S. total caseload.  These standard errors are somewhat overstated because they are calculated assuming a sample of 18,098 cases out of a total of 1,847,155 cases or 0.9798 percent of the average monthly caseload.  California is the State with the smallest sampling fraction of the average monthly caseload.  To obtain the 95 percent confidence level at each percent in Table 10:78, multiply the standard error by a factor of 1.96.
For example, national estimates of 50 percent should not vary from the true value by more than ±0.9212 percentage points (0.47 x 1.96) at the 95 percent confidence level.  To obtain the 99 percent confidence level, multiply the standard errors by a factor of 2.58. 

Non-sampling Errors

Every effort is made to assure that a list of the universe or the sample frame is complete.  It is possible, however, that some cases receiving assistance for the reporting month are not included.  There is no measure of the completeness of the universe.

Data entries are based on information in the case records.  Errors may have occurred because of misinterpretation of questions and because of incomplete case record information.  Errors may also have occurred in coding and transmitting the data.  Efforts have been made to increase the reliability of the coded information.  However, for some data elements, obviously incorrect or missing information was recoded as unknown in the data processing.

Standard Errors of Subsets

For tables based on subsets of the populations (e.g., one‑adult or two‑adult families), the approximate standard errors can be computed by the following method:  (a) determine the assumed sample size of the subset by multiplying the number of cases in the subset by 0.009798; (b) divide the sample size of all families (18,098) by the assumed sample size of the subset; and (c) take the square root of the result and multiply it by the standard errors of the total caseload shown in Table 10:78.

For example, for TANF families with no adult recipients, the approximate standard errors of percentages can be found by multiplying the data in Table 10:78 by the square root of 18,098/8,376 or 1.47.  The sample size of 8,376 is determined by 854,811 x 0.009798.

Standard Errors for State Estimates

The method used above can be adapted to calculate the standard errors of State estimates.  First, divide the national sample size of all families (18,098) by the State sample size shown in Table 10:79.  Then take the square root of the result and multiply it by the standard errors shown in Table 10:80.

For example, for New York, the approximate standard errors of percentages can be found by multiplying the data in Table 10:80 by the square root of 18,098/3,239 or 2.364.

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