The employment retention rate would measure the length of time TANF recipients who found jobs stayed employed. In order to help individuals maintain self-sufficiency - a key objective of the TANF program - it is critical that states help individuals stay in their jobs or find another job quickly if they lose their initial job. Job retention is one component of the Success in the Workforce measure used under the TANF High Performance Bonus. (The data used for making the FY 1999 awards are shown in Table 3.)
|State||1997 Rate||1997 Rank||1998 Rate||1998 Rank|| 97-98 %
|Dist. of Columbia||75.09||33||69.69||39||-7.19||37|
|* State not participating|
|The job retention rate is the average of the sum of the unduplicated number of employed adult recipients in one quarter who were also employed in the first subsequent quarter, as a percent of the sum of the unduplicated number of employed adult recipients in each quarter. (At this point they might be former recipients.) Adult recipients participating in workfare or in fully subsidized employment are not included in either the numerator or the denominator.|
Measurement issues. When defining a retention measure, it is necessary to consider whether the focus is on job retention - the amount of time an individual stays in a specific job - or employment retention - the amount of time an individual remains employed regardless of whether it is the same job or a different job. It may be preferable to focus on employment retention because, in some instances, a change to a different job may be a move to a better job.
Another issue in defining how to calculate the employment retention rate is determining how long individuals will have to remain employed in order to be counted in the rate. The TANF program is likely to be more connected to individuals during the initial period after they find jobs and may have more influence over employment retention in this early period. However, longer periods of retention are clearly more meaningful and desirable. Different retention period choices have been made in the past under various programs. The TANF High Performance Bonus for FYs 1999 and 2000 requires that individuals who find employment in one quarter retain employment into the next quarter. Beginning in the third year of this bonus (FY 2001), the "job retention" measure will be based on three consecutive quarters of employment. The WIA program measures employment retention six months after an individual initially finds a job. The JTPA program used a measure that combined job entry and retention by measuring the employment rate 13 weeks after program exit.
Data issues. The employment retention rate could be most easily measured on a state-by-state basis through UI wage records or at a national level through the NDNH. As discussed above, these records provide relatively comparable and timely data across states at a relatively low cost. States are currently not required to collect information on job retention for the TANF program's reporting requirements, and it would be costly for them to track such individuals. While the JTPA program measured job retention by conducting a survey 13 weeks after individuals left the program, in part because of the cost of this data collection, the successor WIA program will use UI data to calculate employment retention.
While UI or NDNH records can be used to determine whether an individual was employed in several consecutive quarters, they do not indicate whether the individual is in the same job, whether they left their initial job and found a subsequent job, and/or whether there was a break in employment (unless the break covered an entire quarter). Thus, these data can be used only to provide measures of employment retention, rather than job retention, over a certain number of quarters, but they will not capture certain breaks in employment.