Performance Improvement 2013-2014. What Lessons were Learned from the Employment Retention and Advancement Project and what were Successful Strategies to Improve Retention and Earnings Among Low-Income Single Parents?


Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. The Employment Retention and Advancement project was designed to identify and determine the effectiveness of different program strategies to promote employment stability and earnings growth among current or former welfare recipients and other low-income individuals. Researchers discussed results from twelve programs that targeted more employable groups, as opposed to “harder-to employ” groups, such as individuals with known disabilities.

Three of these programs produced consistent increases in individuals' employment retention and advancement, and the others did not. The project points to some strategies that succeeded in improving retention and earnings among low-income single parents and provides some lessons. Supporting employment stability is likely to be a more effective strategy than encouraging job stability — that is, staying employed in the same job. Earnings supplements, tied to job retention and that help to make low-wage work pay, ideally coupled with job coaching, can promote sustained employment and advancement. By themselves, counseling and referrals to services to help people stay employed do not appear to increase employment retention and advancement.

 Report Title: Increasing Employment Stability and Earnings for Low-Income Workers: Lessons from the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project,

Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Michael Dubinsky, 202-401-3442
Performer: MDRC
Record ID: 9911 (April 30, 2012)

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