Since financial stability is an important part of people’s ability to live healthy and independent lives, Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) wanted to learn more about the work experiences of its clients. Using data from the Allegheny County Data Warehouse and 2018 State Unemployment Insurance records, we found that the majority of eligible DHS clients were disconnected from the labor force in 2018, and those who were able to find work tended to earn less than other Allegheny County workers.
The analysis found that:
- 52% of the client sample was disconnected from the labor force in 2018.
- Only 24% of the client sample worked in all 4 quarters in 2018.
- Among clients who worked in all 4 quarters, 38% had earnings that fell below the federal poverty line.
- Even when holding constant occupation and industry, DHS clients appear to be working in lower-paying positions than the average Allegheny County worker.
But there were bright spots for some DHS clients:
- 9% of clients had earnings that exceeded the Allegheny County median.
- The utilities industry offered the highest earnings for DHS clients, who had mean earnings of more than $40,000 per year.
By investigating employment experiences, DHS and its partners can gain insight into clients’ economic challenges and tailor services like education and job training to better meet the needs of clients and employers.