Better really. Given the news that people are more pessimistic about the economy, I wanted to share some encouraging signs for our residents in 2010. For the first time since 2007, more than 1 in 5 residents were earning more than the poverty level for a family of three when they exited the program. The real low point for our families was 2009, when less than one in 10 had income over the poverty level when they left. Even though most graduates in 2010 remained among the working poor, almost 70% had jobs when they left. In 2009, only 36% had jobs when they exited the program.
For our families, there is a strong correlation between how long they stay in the program and whether they have a job. The average length of stay for unemployed people is usually 5-6 months less than for those who find jobs. Residents who experience a long period of unemployment show signs of depression far longer than those who find job, so we believe they leave because they get discouraged.
As more jobs become available, more of our residents will not only leave for permanent homes, but will rise out of poverty. The high point for our families was 2007, when 90% were employed when they exited and 41% were above the poverty level. It may be a slow process, but our families are slowly working back to a better place. I hope we all are.