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"Workfare" in the Triangle: Local Context and Employer Biases Against Welfare Recipients

From: Southeastern Geographer
Volume 42, Number 1, May 2002
pp. 1-19 | 10.1353/sgo.2002.0005



The Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) was passed in 1996 in the U.S. and, through devolution of the administration of welfare programs from the federal to the state and local levels, these programs have taken on various forms and yielded results and outcomes that vary geographically This qualitative study of employer attitudes provides a better understanding of how local context affects the outcomes of a "workfare" program using a case study in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. It focuses on a group of hospitality sector employers in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill MSA and their attitudes toward their employees, with emphasis on welfare recipients and Hispanic immigrants. Results suggest that these employers: (1) are frustrated with implementation of the WorkFirst Program, (2) have a deep-seated perception of an overall poor work ethic in the "workfare" applicant pool, and (3) have a very favorable perception of the work ethic of their immigrant workers.

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