Welfare recipients are not required to work. As you say, if there are few jobs, it would be impossible to require a TANF client to obtain employment. What they are required to do--or have been required to do--is engage in activities that prepare them for employment and do such things as apply for child support...which, oddly enough, many of them are reluctant to do. (This is frequently a sign that the child's daddy is living in the home, despite the client's claim otherwise.) Many man hours are taken up with ensuring that our TANF clients are attending the programs they have agreed to; many clients getting cash assistance get kicked out or withdraw voluntarily because they don't want to spend the time.