Institutional Analysis of American Job Centers

2013-2016
Prepared for
U.S. Department of Labor

When Congress overhauled the country’s public workforce system by enacting the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in 1998, its primary goal was to replace America’s fragmented patchwork of employment and training programs with a more streamlined and coordinated service delivery system. To that end, the WIA required the establishment of American Job Centers (AJCs), previously known as One-Stop Career Centers, to provide “one-stop shopping” for customers seeking employment information and access to jobs, training, and related services. To further knowledge about the public workforce system, the U.S. Department of Labor commissioned a comprehensive study of the institutional features of the AJC system. While a number of studies have focused on certain aspects of AJC services, there is a need to examine the key institutional features that define and shape the AJC system.

This descriptive study of AJCs is being conducted by Mathematica and its partners—Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), The George Washington University, and Capital Research Corporation. It will systematically document AJCs characteristics and identify variations across nine key domains: (1) administrative structure (2) partnerships, (3) performance and strategic management, (4) funding and financing, (5) staffing, (6) physical environment, (7) MIS system capacity and the use of technology, (8) service delivery structure and linkages, and (9)  program and service mix.  

The study involves a substantial fieldwork component, consisting of site visits to as many as 50 AJCs around the country and involving interviews with AJC managers, front-line staff, partner staff, and other local workforce investment area staff. Telephone interviews with state workforce agency staff will provide additional contextual information on state-level factors that may influence local level AJC operations. A web-based network analysis survey of partners in selected AJC sites will further enrich the examination. Data collection will occur in Summer and Fall  2015.