It is a widespread assumption that the interface between social assistance and the labour market implies an incentive structure that hinders people to work. This incentive structure is known as the unemployment trap. In particular within economics it is seen as a matter of course influencing the debate on labour market and social welfare reform. In contrary to these dominant discourses, we take the unemployment trap-theorem as a hypothesis to be tested empirically. We focus on the case of German social assistance (Sozialhilfe) by analysing data from the Social Assistance Calendar from the German Socio Economic Panel (GSOEP), a longitudinal data set, recorded by the Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung (DIW). The data are analysed by using approaches of the Event History Analysis, yielding results that clearly contradict the unemployment trap-theorem: Most people re-enter the labour market after a relatively short period of receiving Sozialhilfe. This is the starting point for asking for the recipients’ reasons for their labour market decisions by analysing 26 interviews with recipients of Sozialhilfe in Cologne and Leipzig.