Do work requirements increase employment rates?

The results are mixed, but the best-studied example of work requirements suggests that any gains in employment rates are small and short-lived. That’s largely because they push people into low-paying and, ultimately, unsustainable jobs. In the case of TANF, initial boosts in employment were explained in large part by the strength of the labor market at the time that work requirements were implemented. But within five years, those gains had largely disappeared, and the TANF recipients subjected to work requirements did not see improved long-term employment outcomes. Instead, what happened was that people who were unable to work—due to, for example, health problems or labor market disadvantages—were unceremoniously cut off of income assistance, and many were pushed deeper into poverty.