Figure 4.2 and Appendix Table C.2 show the average annual earnings of program and control group members during years 1 to 5. These earnings comparisons provide the most comprehensive measure of the effects of the programs because they reflect differences in the number of people who went to work, how long they worked, and their average wages.
Impacts on Employment in Years 1 to 5
SOURCE: MDRC calculations from state and county administrative records.
NOTES: See Appendix A.1.
The trends in program effects on earnings are similar to the effects on employment. Employment-focused programs had larger initial effects than education-focused programs, but most programs of both types significantly raised earnings in years 2 and 3 (the exception was Oklahoma City). Earnings impacts for both types of programs declined after year 3 and, especially, after year 4. By the end of the follow-up period, only the Riverside LFA and Portland programs continued to significantly raise earnings above the control group average.
The pattern of earnings suggests once again that employment-focused programs will continue to produce larger cumulative impacts than education-focused programs. Figure 4.2 and Appendix Table C.2 indicate that the LFA and HCD programs had similar effects on earnings in year 5, and, if anything, earnings impacts were slightly higher for the LFAs.
Results for Atlanta LFA and Portland deserve special attention. Like the other employment-focused programs (Grand Rapids LFA and Riverside LFA), Atlanta LFA and Portland significantly raised earnings in year 1. Unlike the other two programs, however, effects on earnings were greater in years 2 and 3 than in year 1. In other words, the pattern of their effects on earnings over time looked more like the education-focused programs and probably reflects these programs' greater emphasis on short-term education and training than the employment-focused programs in Grand Rapids and Riverside.
The findings for Portland are especially noteworthy. Portland continued to produce unusually large earnings impacts (of $1,200 and $900) in years 4 and 5 well above the effects of any other program. As discussed earlier, the Portland program allowed some people considered in need of education to enroll initially in short-term education and training and encouraged job search participants to seek out relatively well-paying jobs with an opportunity for advancement.