Targeted Help for the Hard-to-Employ: Outcomes of Two Philadelphia Welfare-to-Work Programs. Economic Conditions

09/02/2004

Since the RSC and TWC programs operated on different scales, and our study examines outcomes for a similar number of participants for each program, the study includes participants who enrolled in these programs over slightly different periods of time.  The seven RSCs that operated throughout the city of Philadelphia had the capacity to enroll as many as 1,400 new WtW-eligible clients each month.  In contrast, the TWC program was set up to serve about 1,500 clients each year.  Because of these different scales of operation, the RSCs reached our sample goal of 2,000 WtW participants sooner than the TWC program.  As Figure III.1 shows, RSC sample enrollment began in September 1999 and ended in January 2001, although most RSC sample members had been enrolled by June 2000.  In contrast, TWC sample enrollment also began in September 1999 but progressed more gradually and continued until April 2001.[3]  Hence, differences in economic conditions at the time of enrollment and during the follow-up period could have contributed to the differences for outcomes of RSC and TWC participants.

Figure III.1
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Cumulative Enrollment into RSC and TWC Study Samples

Figure III.1 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: Cumulative Enrollment into RSC and TWC Study Samples.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

Rising unemployment may have contributed to poorer employment outcomes for TWC participants. As Figure III.2 shows, unemployment rates for Philadelphia had a pronounced upward trend from January 2001 through August or September 2002.  Rising unemployment could have made it more difficult for later sample enrollees  mostly TWC participants  to find and keep jobs.[4]  To test this hypothesis, we divided our TWC study sample into two groups  based on their date of enrollment  and compared their employment outcomes.  TWC participants enrolled by June 30, 2000, were labeled early entrants, and TWC participants enrolled on or after July 1, 2000, were labeled late entrants.  As Figure III.3 shows, for early TWC enrollees, employment rates after the subsidized-employment portion of the TWC program (that is, in quarter 3 and beyond) are lower than for RSC enrollees but follow a similar pattern. Compared with early TWC enrollees, late TWC enrollees appeared to have more success during the transitional work component of the program but poorer employment outcomes afterward.[5]  Since late enrollees make up about half our TWC participant sample, their poorer employment outcomes during the unsubsidized portion of the program could have contributed to lower average employment rates for TWC participants overall.

Figure III.2
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Monthly Unemployment for Philadelphia

Figure III.2 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: Monthly Unemployment for Philadelphia.

Source: Local Area Unemployment Statistics, BLS

 

Figure III.3
Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study:
Employment Rates Over Time for RSC, TWC-Early, and TWC-Late Enrollees

Figure III.3 Philadelphia WTW Outcomes Study: Employment Rates Over Time for RSC, TWC-Early, and TWC-Late Enrollees.

Source: Administrative Data from State of Pennsylvania

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