Method: A structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis was used with a sample of 1,443 low-income jobseekers participating in two Chicago-based job readiness training programs. Key variables in this model are employment hope, social support and economic self-sufficiency. A recently revalidated Short Employment Hope Scale (EHS-14; Hong et al., 2014)—including 3 factors of psychological empowerment, futuristic self-motivation, utilization of skills and resources, and goal orientation—was used to measure employment hope. Social support was measured with Interpersonal Support Evaluation List (Cohen et al., 1985)—including 3 factors of appraisal, belonging, and tangible supports—and economic self-sufficiency was measured using the Women’s Employment Network (WEN) Economic Self-Sufficiency Scale (Gowdy & Pearlmutter, 1993)—including 4 factors of autonomy and self-determination; financial security and responsibility; family and self well-being; and basic assets for community living.
Results: SEM results indicate that employment hope mediates the path between social support and economic self-sufficiency. Social support was significantly associated with both employment hope (.389) and economic self-sufficiency (.101). Also the employment hope was significantly associated with economic self-sufficiency (.282). All fit indexes demonstrated a good model fit (RMSEA: .065, CFI: .976, TLI: .966).
Implications: It is suggested that social support may assist clients to increase their employment hope and help clients on their journey to achieving economic self-sufficiency. Positive social support has the potential to develop and sustain employment hope as the core aspect of psychological self-sufficiency that leads to economic self-sufficiency. These findings suggest that social workers should capitalize on existing positive social support or develop new network of support systems through social worker-client relationships or peer-peer interactions for low-income jobseekers participating in job readiness training programs.