Falling welfare rolls in the US has focussed attention on those remaining on the caseload, variously termed the ‘hard to serve’ or ‘difficult to employ’. Using data from the first three years of the Women's Employment Study, a sample of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) recipients drawn in an urban county in Michigan, this article examines the barriers that inhibit people moving off welfare. The analysis indicates that the kinds of skill deficits and other personal problems experienced by welfare recipients are not frequently and systematically addressed within the rapid-employment, welfare to work models widely implemented across the USA.
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