In this commentary published by Spotlight on Poverty, MDRC President Gordon Berlin makes the case for creating a more flexible safety net that continues to reward work when jobs are plentiful, provides employment to poor families when jobs disappear, and begins to address the problem of stagnant wages at the low end of the labor market.
Implementation and Final Impacts of the Work Advancement and Support Center (WASC) Demonstration
WASC sought to increase the incomes of low-wage workers by stabilizing employment, improving skills, increasing earnings, and easing access to work supports. The program increased workers’ receipt of work supports. In the two sites that eased access to funds for training, WASC increased the receipt of certificates and licenses and increased earnings in the third year.
Final Results of the Hard-to-Employ Demonstration and Evaluation Project and Selected Sites from the Employment Retention and Advancement Project
Lessons from the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) Project
Many recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and other low-income individuals find or keep jobs for a while, but far fewer remain steadily employed and advance in the labor market. This report describes results and draws lessons from rigorous evaluations of 12 programs seeking to improve employment retention and advancement among low-wage workers.
An MDRC evaluation of Moving Up, a program in South Carolina that aimed to help former welfare recipients obtain jobs, work more steadily, and move up in the labor market, found that the program had little effect on employment rates, earnings, employment retention, or advancement.
Evidence from a Sample of Recent CET Applicants
This working paper examines employment and earnings over a four-year period for a group of disadvantaged out-of-school youth who entered the Evaluation of the Center for Employment Training (CET) Replication Sites between 1995 and 1999. It assesses the importance of three key factors as barriers to employment: lack of a high school diploma, having children, and having an arrest record.
Final Report on the Center for Employment Training Replication Sites
The Center for Employment Training (CET) in San Jose, California, produced large, positive employment and earnings effects for out-of-school youth in the late 1980s. However, in this replication study, even the highest-fidelity sites did not increase employment or earnings for youth over the 54-month follow-up period, despite short-term positive effects for women.
Early results are mixed for Employment Retention and Advancement project programs in four sites, but programs in two sites appear to help some welfare recipients work more steadily and advance to higher-paying jobs.