Vermont's Progressive Employment Program: A Preliminary Impact Analysis

Publisher: Princeton, NJ: Center for Studying Disability Policy, Mathematica Policy Research
Sep 30, 2018
David R. Mann, David C. Stapleton, and Alice Porter

Key Findings:

  • PE increases the likelihood of exiting VR with a job by 21.3 percentage points.
  •  Two quarters after VR exit, we observed a 6.3 percentage point increase in the share of PE recipients who earned more than$2,600.
  • PE may have increased SSI recipient at the point of VR exit.
  • This study’s findings—and its limitations—suggest that a rigorous prospective test of PE would help establish whether PE is evidence based.
Progressive employment (PE) is a relatively new intervention model for people who face major barriers to employment. It has been adopted by a small group of state vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies but has not yet been fully tested. We used administrative data from Vermont to examine PE’s impact on VR customers in the state. We used a quasi-experimental approach to avoid the bias that might otherwise emerge when comparing the outcomes of people selected to receive PE services versus those who were not. We found that PE increases the likelihood of exiting VR with a job by over 20 percentage points, and it may also increase earnings after VR exit. A randomized controlled trial would generate more rigorous evidence about the impacts of PE.