National Evaluation of the Welfare-to-Work Grants Program: Final Report. Extent of Employment after Program Entry

09/01/2004

While placement into new jobs initially raised the employment rate among enrollees, the initial gains in employment were not sustained over time. In all but two of the study sites, the employment rate of WtW enrollees peaked in the quarter of program entry or the following quarter and declined thereafter (Exhibit IV.2). For example, in Phoenix the employment rate peaked at 60 percent the quarter after program entry and then steadily declined to 46 percent four quarters after program entry. However, in West Virginia and Yakima, the employment rate of enrollees increased for several quarters after program entry and then stabilized at the higher level. In West Virginia, it increased from 14 percent in the quarter of program entry to 41 percent four quarters after entry. In Yakima, the increase was less dramatic but still substantial, from 35 percent in the quarter of program entry to 44 percent four quarters later.

Relative to their pre-entry peaks, employment rates of enrollees four quarters after program entry were substantially higher for three sites  West Virginia, Chicago, and St. Lucie County  and were at about the same level for the remaining sites. For example, the employment rate of WtW enrollees in West Virginia four quarters after program entry was 39 percent, compared with a pre-entry peak of 22 percent; Chicago had a less dramatic but still substantial increase of about 9 percentage points. For the remaining sites, the employment rates of WtW enrollees four quarters after program entry were about the same as their pre-entry peak. For example, at 54 percent, the employment rate four quarters after program entry in Ft. Worth was the same as its pre-entry peak.

Although employment rates generally declined shortly after program entry, average earnings generally remained stable or increased gradually in the quarters following post-entry peaks in employment rates. In fact, there was no study site for which average earnings four quarters after program entry were lower than in the quarter of program entry. This pattern could be due to employment in the later quarters being associated with longer work hours and/or higher wages than employment in the earlier quarters.

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