Report on Alternative Outcome Measures: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant . Employment Retention Rate

12/01/2000

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.)

Table 3.
Job Retention Rate

(Data Reported for FY 1999 High Performance Bonus Awards)
State 1997 Rate 1997 Rank 1998 Rate 1998 Rank 97-98 %
Improvement
Improvement
Rank
Alabama * * * * * *
Alaska * * 79.78 15 * *
Arizona 81.93 8 83.12 8 1.45 8
Arkansas 78.95 20 79.13 19 0.22 13
California 83.94 5 84.61 3 0.80 10
Colorado 75.55 32 76.04 31 0.65 11
Connecticut 86.21 1 85.06 2 -1.33 26
Delaware 77.10 29 75.70 32 -1.81 29
Dist. of Columbia 75.09 33 69.69 39 -7.19 37
Florida 72.84 36 79.37 16 8.97 1
Georgia 73.36 35 67.93 41 -7.40 38
Hawaii 84.71 4 86.45 1 2.05 6
Idaho * * * * * *
Illinois 82.42 7 82.79 10 0.46 12
Indiana * * 83.48 6 * *
Iowa 82.84 6 82.91 9 0.08 14
Kansas 77.44 28 76.58 29 -1.11 23
Kentucky 59.64 40 59.37 43 -0.46 21
Louisiana 66.39 38 57.19 44 -13.87 41
Maine * * * * * *
Maryland 76.17 30 73.82 35 -3.09 32
Massachusetts 77.99 25 73.21 37 -6.12 36
Michigan 78.84 21 78.74 20 -0.13 17
Minnesota 80.70 10 83.50 5 3.47 4
Mississippi 77.69 26 77.55 25 -0.19 18
Missouri 78.53 22 77.29 26 -1.58 27
Montana * * 67.46 42 * *
Nebraska * * * * * *
Nevada 77.62 27 76.77 28 -1.10 22
New Hampshire 78.34 23 74.98 33 -4.29 34
New Jersey 80.24 13 76.99 27 -4.05 33
New Mexico * * * * * *
New York 81.86 9 83.25 7 1.70 7
North Carolina 79.56 16 78.62 21 -1.19 25
North Dakota 72.39 37 71.22 38 -1.62 28
Ohio * * 76.23 30 * *
Oklahoma 62.52 39 68.11 40 8.93 2
Oregon 79.88 15 78.41 22 -1.84 30
Pennsylvania 79.55 17 79.30 17 -0.32 19
Rhode Island 80.04 14 82.16 11 2.64 5
South Carolina 80.41 12 81.18 13 0.96 9
South Dakota 75.62 31 74.09 34 -2.02 31
Tennessee 80.49 11 80.52 14 0.03 15
Texas 78.16 24 77.82 24 -0.44 20
Utah 74.12 34 73.26 36 -1.17 24
Vermont 79.21 18 79.17 18 -0.05 16
Virginia * * * * * *
Washington 78.96 19 83.81 4 6.14 3
West Virginia 59.21 41 53.41 45 -9.81 40
Wisconsin 85.57 2 78.15 23 -8.67 39
Wyoming 85.44 3 81.32 12 -4.82 35
* 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.