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Assessment of the impact of WorkSource job search services (Lee et al. 2009)

Citation

Lee, K., Weeks, G., Bodeutsch, G., Clay-Poole, S., Garoflo, T., Petritz, M., Stromsdorfer, E., Field, J., Paterson, T., & Jennings, K. (2009). Assessment of the impact of WorkSource job search services. Washington: Washington State Employment Security Department Labor Market and Economic Analysis.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to assess the effectiveness of Washington State WorkSource job search services. WorkSource services included staff-assisted job matching, provision of labor market information, job search and placement assistance, and initial assessments.
  • Using a nonexperimental design, the authors compared the employment and earnings of Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants who received at least one WorkSource service with those of UI claimants who did not receive any WorkSource services using state UI administrative records for more than 64,000 Washington State UI claimants with no UI-reported wage earnings in the third quarter of 2007.
  • The study found that WorkSource services were associated with a higher probability of employment and higher earnings growth for men and women who were intermittently (rather than continuously) employed in the baseline period.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to WorkSource services. Other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

JSA services

Features of the Intervention

Washington’s WorkSource is a collaboration of organizations dedicated to addressing the state’s employment needs. Partners include state and local government agencies, community-based organizations, employers, and career and technical colleges.

WorkSource centers offer a variety of services to eligible individuals. The services of primary interest in this study are access to a resource room with computers and other technology, orientation to WorkSource services, job search planning, job search and placement assistance, initial assessments of skills and occupational interests, job search review program services, job referrals, provision of labor market information, and staff-assisted job matching. Note that these services are not restricted to UI claimants.1

Features of the Study

The study included UI claimants without any UI-reported earnings in the third quarter of 2007. The study exclude those assigned to longer-term education or job training services. Among the eligible claimants, those who received at least some UI-provided employment services (either voluntarily or as required) in the following year served as the treatment group; those who never received any UI-provided employment services served as the comparison group. Both research groups were organized by gender, and within gender by consistency of employment in the baseline period, defined as the fourth quarter of 2005 through the second quarter of 2007. Those with UI-reported before-tax earnings in each of these seven baseline quarters were assigned to the continuous employment subgroup; those with at least one quarter of employment in the baseline quarters were assigned to the intermittent employment subgroup.

The authors estimated the impact of receiving WorkSource services on employment in quarters 3 and 4 of 2008 and earnings growth using UI administrative wage records.

Findings

Employment

  • Among men with intermittent baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increase in the likelihood of being employed of 35 to 37 percent.
  • Among men with continuous baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increase in the likelihood of employment of 20 to 24 percent. 
  • Among women with intermittent baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increase in the likelihood of employment of 27 to 28 percent.
  • Among women with continuous baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increase in the likelihood of employment of 22 to 26 percent.

Earnings and wages

  • Among men with intermittent baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increase in earnings over a six-month period of $1,449 to $1,493.
  • Among men with continuous baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with no statistically significant impact on earnings.
  • Among women with intermittent baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with an increased the pre-post difference in earnings over a six-month period of $1,232 to $1,241
  • Among women with continuous baseline employment, WorkSource services were associated with no statistically significant impact on earnings.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The fact that the treatment group included some claimants who chose to participate in WorkSource job search services makes it difficult to attribute the observed differences between the groups to the services themselves, and not other factors. For instance, UI claimants who are more motivated to become reemployed might both be more likely to engage in job search activities and become reemployed. In addition, the observed differences between treatment and comparison group members, particularly among the intermittently employed group, in previous employment, earnings, UI benefit receipt, and union membership are so large that they are unlikely to be adequately controlled for in the impact estimation models.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to WorkSource services. Other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2015

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