How Effective Are Different Welfare-to-Work Approaches? Five-Year Adult and Child Impacts for Eleven Programs. Employment Stability and Earnings Growth

12/01/2001

As discussed above, in theory both employment- and education-focused programs can lead to impacts on measures of employment stability and earnings growth. Participants in employment-focused programs are expected to start working quickly and acquire valuable skills and experience on the job that lead to employment stability and advancement. In contrast, education-focused programs aim to increase job-related skills and education credentials before employment, thereby helping people to obtain stable and high-paying jobs. Table 4.2 shows the effects of the 11 programs on the proportion of sample members who worked in all four quarters of year 5, and the proportion who earned $10,000 or more in year 5. Appendix Table C.6 shows the effects of the programs on two related measures: whether sample members worked in 9 of the 12 quarters in years 3 to 5 and whether they experienced earnings growth during the follow-up period.(9)

 

Table 4.2
Impacts on Employment Stability and Earning $10,000 or More in Year 5

Site and Program

Sample Size Program Group (%) Control Group (%) Difference (Impact) Percentage Change (%)
Employed in all four quarters of year 5
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 36.9 36.6 0.3 0.8
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 36.5 36.6 -0.1 -0.3
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 39.4 38.7 0.7 1.7
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 38.3 38.7 -0.4 -1.0
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 26.3 23.2 3.1 *** 13.5
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 23.1 18.8 4.3 *** 22.9
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 21.6 18.8 2.7 * 14.5
Columbus Integrated 4,672 40.7 39.4 1.3 3.3
Columbus Traditional 4,729 40.4 39.4 1.1 2.7
Detroit 4,459 37.4 37.1 0.3 0.7
Oklahoma City 8,677 19.4 18.7 0.7 3.9
Portland 4,028 38.2 33.6 4.6 ** 13.6
Earned $10,000 or more
Atlanta Labor Force Attachment 2,938 25.7 25.0 0.6 2.6
Atlanta Human Capital Development 2,992 24.8 25.0 -0.2 -0.8
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment 3,012 26.0 25.4 0.6 2.3
Grand Rapids Human Capital Development 2,997 25.3 25.4 -0.0 -0.1
Riverside Labor Force Attachment 6,726 18.6 16.6 2.0 ** 12.2
Lacked high school diploma or basic skills 3,125 14.3 12.0 2.3 ** 19.6
Riverside Human Capital Development 3,135 12.7 12.0 0.7 5.9
Columbus Integrated 4,672 34.1 31.6 2.5 * 7.9
Columbus Traditional 4,729 32.2 31.6 0.6 2.1
Detroit 4,459 28.4 27.1 1.4 5.0
Oklahoma City 8,677 13.9 13.2 0.7 5.3
Portland 4,028 30.4 26.6 3.8 * 14.4
SOURCE:  MDRC calculations from state and county administrative records.
NOTES:  See Appendix A.1.

In general, there is little indication that either the employment-focused or the education-focused programs improved stable employment or high earnings in year 5. Only three programs  Riverside LFA, Riverside HCD, and Portland  resulted in significantly more people working in all four quarters of year 5. Likewise, only three programs  Riverside LFA, Columbus Integrated, and Portland  resulted in significantly more people earning at least $10,000 in year 5. Moreover, effects for all programs were relatively small  that is, less than 5 percentage points  on these measures.

A slightly different pattern emerges when stable employment and earnings growth are measured over more years of follow-up. (See Appendix Table C.6.) All four employment-focused programs, but only two of seven education-focused programs led to an impact on the measure of stable employment during years 3 to 5. However, on the measure of earnings over time, only the Riverside LFA and Portland programs, along with the Riverside HCD program, led to increases over the control group. The Portland program led to the largest impacts on both outcomes, which helps explain why it continued to produce earnings impacts in the last years of follow-up.