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Labor Policy Research

Career success and the financial stability it produces are part of the American dream. But not everyone entering the workforce has the education and training needed to succeed. Young people in poverty, disadvantaged adults, ex-offenders, veterans and spouses of service members, older workers, and employees laid off from jobs in declining industries face especially severe barriers to workforce achievement and have unique needs that must be addressed. Mathematica has been studying ways to help these groups succeed in the labor market. In addition, we have assisted government agencies and nonprofit organizations in providing services more effectively and efficiently. Read more about our labor research.

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Evaluating the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Photo of workersAiming to revitalize the economy, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009. The Act provides the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) with $750 million to provide worker training and placement in high-growth and high-demand industries such as the health care sector, worker training for placement in "green jobs" such as the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries, and summer job programs for youth. Mathematica is evaluating many of these initiatives.

Higher-Value Training Awards, with Counseling, Would Generate Large Net Benefits

photo of job trainingA new report details findings from Mathematica's evaluation of the effects of alternative training models used under the Workforce Investment Act. Jobseekers could realize potential net benefits over 20 years of approximately $41,000 per person if local workforce training agencies implemented programs that combine higher, more flexible individual limits for expenditures on state-approved training with support from training counselors. Read the release. Check out the fact sheet.







  • "Assessment of the Workforce System's Implementation of the Veterans' Priority of Service Provision of the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2002." Stephanie Boraas, Grace Roemer, and Katie Bodenlos, March 2013. Mathematica conducted an assessment of the Workforce System's Implementation of the Priority of Service (POS) Provision of the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2002 to examine the status of current POS implementation efforts. This report, funded by the Employment and Training Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), provides a detailed description of the activities and practices of a select set of American Job Centers, documents promising practices in place at these centers, and identifies challenges to POS implementation. DOL publicly released this report on December 18, 2013, through the issuance of Training and Employment Notice No. 17-13.
  • "Using Administrative Data to Address Federal Contractor Violations of Equal Employment Opportunity Laws." Nan Maxwell, Aravind Moorthy, Caroline Massad Francis, and Dylan Ellis, July 2013. This study uses administrative data to examine trends in, and factors associated with, violations and reviolations of equal employment opportunity laws for federal contractors and the effectiveness of remedies and press releases to deter reviolations.
  • "Addressing Return-to-Work Issues in the Federal Employees' Compensation Act with Administrative Data." Nan Maxwell, Albert Liu, Nathan Wozny, and Caroline Massad Francis, April 2013. This study examines the characteristics of workers' compensation claims, case management indicators, and work outcomes using administrative data on the cases reported under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act from 2005 to 2010.
  • "How Are Women Served by the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs? Findings from Administrative Data." Nan Maxwell, Heinrich Hock, Natalya Verbitsky-Savitz, and Davin Reed, December 2012. This report describes the characteristics, service receipt, and short-term job outcomes of female customers leaving the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult and Dislocated Worker programs in 2009. It also assesses gender differences and local variation in service receipt and outcomes. Females were more likely than males to face employment barriers before enrolling in WIA programs. Along with geographic factors, these differences mostly explained why women received more extensive training and supportive services than men did.
  • "Evaluation of the National Farmworker Jobs Program." Elizabeth Clary, Jonathan Ladinsky, Megan Hague Angus, and Alexander Millar, March 2013. This report presents findings from an evaluation of the National Farmworker Jobs Program. Authorized under the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, the program serves migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their dependents by offering services such as case management, skills training, and related assistance. The report examines how the program operates, whom it serves, and the employment outcomes of farmworkers after participation.
  • "Evaluation of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP): Process and Outcomes Study." Deborah Kogan, Hannah Betesh, Marian Negoita, Jeffrey Salzman, Laura Paulen, Haydee Cuza, Liz Potamites, Jillian Berk, Carrie Wolfson, and Patty Cloud, September 2012. This study analyzed quantitative and qualitative data to learn about local-project performance, program outcomes, and participants’ views of this employment and training program for low-income, older adults. The study, conducted with Social Policy Research Associates, found SCSEP projects provide needed services to older workers, offer necessary staffing for host agencies, and place nearly half of program exiters who are available for work into unsubsidized employment.
  • "When Do Regression-Adjusted Performance Measures Track Longer-Term Program Impacts? A Case Study for Job Corps." Peter Z. Schochet and Jane Fortson. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Spring 2014. Performance management systems may improve service delivery and participant outcomes, but they do not necessarily provide information on a program's causal effects. This article develops a statistical model that describes the conditions under which regression adjustment improves the performance–impact correlation. Using extensive data from a rigorous evaluation of Job Corps, the study team found that, while regression adjustment changes Job Corps center performance measures, the adjusted performance measures are not correlated with impact estimates.
  • "Low Skilled Immigration and Work-Fertility Tradeoffs Among High Skilled US Natives." Delia Furtado and Heinrich Hock. American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings, May 2010. This article examines the impact of low skilled immigration on the childbearing and labor supply decisions of high-education female natives of the United States. The authors find that an influx of low skilled immigrants to a city attenuates the negative relationship between female labor force participation (LFP) and fertility, leading to an increase in the proportion of women that both work and have a young child in the home. The authors argue that the smaller LFP-fertility tradeoff attributable to immigrant workers arises due to reductions in cost of childrearing. Whereas most immigration research focuses on the reduced employment prospects of natives, this paper considers the potential benefits of immigration to high skilled native women.
  • "Does Job Corps Work? Impact Findings from the National Job Corps Study." Peter Z. Schochet, John Burghardt and Sheena McConnell. American Economic Review (subscription required), December 2008. This paper presents findings from an experimental evaluation of Job Corps, the nation’s largest training program for disadvantaged youths. The study used survey data collected over four years, as well as tax data collected over nine years, for a nationwide sample of 15,400 treatments and controls. The Job Corps model has promise; program participation increases educational attainment, reduces criminal activity, and increases earnings for several postprogram years. Based on tax data, however, the earnings gains were not sustained except for the oldest participants.
  • “Do Job Corps Performance Measures Track Program Impacts?” Peter Z. Schochet and John Burghardt. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (subscription required), summer 2008. This article examines the association between program performance measures and long-term program impacts, using nine-year follow-up data from a recent large-scale national experimental evaluation of Job Corps, the nation’s largest federal job training program for disadvantaged youths. The authors note that impacts on key outcomes are not associated with center performance levels. Participants in higher-performing centers had better outcomes; however, the same pattern held for controls. The program’s performance measurement system is not achieving the goal of ranking and rewarding centers on the basis of their ability to improve participant outcomes relative to what these outcomes would have been otherwise.
  • "Using Propensity Scoring to Estimate Program-Related Subgroup Impacts in Experimental Program Evaluations." Peter Z. Schochet and John Burghardt. Evaluation Review (subscription required), March 2007. This article discusses the use of propensity scoring in experimental program evaluations to estimate impacts for subgroups defined by program features and participants' program experiences. The authors discuss estimation issues, provide specification tests, and review an overlooked data collection design—obtaining predictions that program intake staff make about applicants' likely assignments and experiences—that could improve the quality of matched comparison samples. They demonstrate the approach's effectiveness in producing credible subgroup findings using data from Mathematica's Job Corps evaluation.
  • "Effective Case Management: Key Elements and Practices from the Field." Issue Brief. Elizabeth Laird and Pamela Holcomb, June 2011. This issue brief provides examples of key elements and practices for effective case management in the workforce system. It provides examples of state and local tools, processes, and policies designed to create or improve case management, and includes an annotated list of additional resources.
  • "Integrating Intake Among Workforce Programs: Key Strategies." Issue Brief. Elizabeth Laird and Pamela Holcomb, June 2011. This issue brief provides examples of key strategies for creating a common intake process for customers throughout the workforce system. It provides examples of state and local tools, processes, and policies designed to create or improve integrated intake, and includes an annotated list of additional resources.
  • "Employer Resource Networks: Uniting Businesses and Public Partners to Improve Job Retention and Advancement for Low-Wage Workers." Michelle Derr and Pamela Holcomb, June 2010. This issue brief describes the Employer Resource Network (ERN), an innovative, employer-based model that pulls together a consortium of small- to mid-size businesses to provide job retention services, work supports, and training opportunities for entry-level employees, many of whom are receiving public assistance. ERNs include strong partnerships with other service delivery systems and organizations, such as social service agencies, workforce development agencies, chambers of commerce, and community and technical colleges.

American Enterprise InstituteGetting America Back to Work: Can Training Programs Do the Job?—Washington, DC—September 7, 2012
Paul Decker, Panelist: Perspectives on Reform of Publicly Funded Job Training

National Transitional Jobs Network ConferenceRestoring the Promise of Work: Subsidized Employment & Transitional Jobs—Baltimore, MD—April 12-13, 2012
Michelle Derr and Others: "Transitioning Youth to Employment and Education: Lessons Learned from DOL and HHS Collaboration"

Unemployment Insurance Integrity Summit—Arlington, VA—March 12-14, 2012
Andrew Clarkwest, Panelist: Get a Job

Workforce One—Webinar—May 18, 2010
Michelle Derr, Moderator: Employer-Based Strategies for Helping Disadvantaged Job Seekers Obtain and Maintain Employment

National League of Cities—Audioconference—April 28, 2010
Jeanne Bellotti: Job Strategies for Disconnected Youth