Increases in the incidence of working-age persons outside the labor force and poor female-headed families have focused national attention on that portion of the working-age poor who do not work. This study examines the role of selected demographic, family and family income variables on the work status (working versus nonworking) of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan heads of poor families in the South. The findings indicate that both age and receipt of public welfare in the previous year exert significant influences on working, regardless of residence. By residence, race is a more important predictor of work status in metropolitan than nonmetropolitan areas, while education plays a more important role in nonmetropolitan areas. Finally, these individual-level variables leave a substantial amount of variance in work status unexplained, suggesting the importance of structural explanations of work status among the poor in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas of the South.

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