The Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration


Some adults have great difficulty finding and holding jobs even when overall economic conditions are good. These individuals typically have low levels of formal education and skills and other characteristics, such as criminal records, that place them at the back of the queue for job openings. Many programs have been developed to assist these job seekers, but few have demonstrated sustained success. One such model, “transitional jobs,” offers temporary jobs, subsidized with public funds, that aim to teach participants basic work skills or help them get a foot in the door with an employer. Several transitional jobs programs have been evaluated, with mixed results. The Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD), sponsored by the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) in the U.S. Department of Labor, was designed to fund and rigorously test employment programs targeting noncustodial parents and individuals recently released from prison. MDRC led the evaluation, along with its partners, Abt Associates and MEF Associates. The project was built on recent studies of transitional jobs programs, which had shown mixed results. Thus, programs funded in the ETJD project included specific enhancements designed to yield stronger results. MDRC also conducted the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which focused on programs serving parents who were directly or indirectly connected to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Agenda, Scope, and Goals

The ETJD project funds and evaluates enhanced transitional jobs programs targeting noncustodial parents and individuals who were formerly incarcerated. The evaluation is using a random assignment design to assess whether the programs increase participants’ earnings and employment in both the short and long run. It will also examine whether the programs decrease recidivism, increase child support payments, or achieve other important outcomes.

Design, Sites, and Data Sources

Seven grantees are participating in the demonstration:

  • Center for Community Alternatives, Syracuse, NY
  • Goodwill of North Georgia, Atlanta
  • City and County of San Francisco
  • Tarrant County Workforce Development Board, Fort Worth, TX
  • The Doe Fund Inc., New York City
  • Workforce Inc., Indianapolis, IN
  • Young Women's Christian Association of Greater Milwaukee


Individuals who are eligible for the ETJD programs will be assigned, at random, to a program group that is offered services from the transitional jobs program or to a control group that is not served in the program but may seek out other services in the community.

The evaluation will use a combination of surveys and administrative records to track the study groups for several years. It will also study the operation of the programs and assess their costs.