Performance Improvement 2008. Do Chicago Employment Retention and Advancement Program Welfare Recipients Hold Jobs Longer or Advance in Those Jobs?


This study examined interim results for the Chicago site in the national Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project. Serving low-wage welfare recipients who were already working, the Chicago program tested the effectiveness of an approach to advance individuals into better jobs. The services in Chicago were tailored to individual participants after conducting an assessment and developing an individualized advancement plan. The program´s most commonly helped participants moved fairly quickly to new jobs that paid more. The service provider was well suited to implement this approach because it had strong relationships with many local employers. The program paid for many of the costs, for things such as uniforms and training that participants incurred when starting new jobs. In some cases, ERA staff coached participants to ask for a raise or more hours in their current job or contacted the participant´s employer directly to discuss advancement opportunities. A randomly assigned group of eligible participants was assigned to a control group that did not receive ERA services.

The program helped some people, who were not working, find jobs. ERA modestly increased employment during the first two years of the study period; this effect was somewhat larger the second year. It appears that ERA helped some participants move from informal jobs to somewhat higher-paying jobs in the formal labor market.

Report Title: The Employment Retention and Advancement Project: Results from the Chicago ERA Site, Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Timothy Baker, 202-260-6165

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