Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) on earnings, employment, education, and public benefits receipt outcomes. This profile focuses on the Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment (LFA) program. The authors investigated similar research questions for other contrasts and sites, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial at the Grand Rapids, Michigan site. Using two-year participant surveys and administrative data, the authors conducted statistical tests to compare the outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
- The study found that treatment group participants were significantly more likely to have higher earnings, be employed, and less likely to receive public benefits when compared to control group participants. However, control participants were significantly more likely than treatment participants to obtain an education or training credential.
- This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment (LFA) program, and not to other factors.
Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment (LFA)
Features of the Intervention
The Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program was created by the Family Support Act of 1988, which required people who receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to either seek and accept employment or engage in activities such as training, education, or unpaid work through the welfare department. The Grand Rapids Labor Force Attachment (LFA) program operated under the JOBS program. The Grand Rapids LFA program was an employment-focused, job search first model that began with a short course of classroom instruction on the job search process and supervised employment seeking. Following this phase, participants who had not found employment would undergo a reassessment process and then engage in some combination of continued job searching, short-term basic education or vocational training, subsidized employment, and unpaid work through the welfare department. The program was designed to serve AFDC applicants who were determined to not meet any work exemption criteria.
Features of the Study
The study was part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies that examined the effectiveness of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs in seven sites across the United States. This profile focuses on the LFA vs. no-treatment control analysis for the Grand Rapids site.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the Grand Rapids program on earnings, education, employment, and public benefits receipt outcomes. The study sought to enroll AFDC applicants who were determined to not meet any work exemption criteria. Applicants who enrolled in the study between September 1991 and January 1994 were randomized to one of two treatment groups (LFA or HCD) or a control group. The authors assigned 1,557 applicants to one treatment group that received the LFA intervention and 1,455 applicants to the no-treatment control group that did not receive program services but could independently pursue similar services in the community. Across the treatment and control groups at this site, participants were almost all (96%) female, with 41% between the ages of 25 and 34, and 50% identifying as white, non-Hispanic. Over half (58%) had never been married and a similar proportion (60%) had received at least high school diploma or GED. The majority (68%) were parenting at least one child aged five or younger and 11% were already employed at the time of study enrollment. The data sources were two-year participant surveys and three types of administrative data: state unemployment insurance data, AFDC data, and food stamp data. Using statistical tests, the authors compared the outcomes of the LFA program participants with those of the no-treatment control participants, examining multiple measures of earnings, education, employment, and public benefits receipt.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that treatment participants earned $1035 more than control participants across the two study years and $504 more than control participants in year two. These differences were significant.
- However, the study did not find a significant difference between the groups in average weekly pay at the end of year two or average earnings in the last quarter of year two.
Education and skills gains
- The study found that significantly fewer treatment participants than control participants obtained any education or training credential over the study period (10% vs. 15%).
- The study did not find a significant difference between the groups for obtaining a high school diploma or GED or obtaining a trade license or certificate over the study period.
- The study found that more treatment participants than control participants were ever employed in year two (67% vs. 61%), and were employed in all four quarters of year two (22% vs. 19%). These differences were significant.
- The study also found that significantly more treatment participants than control participants were employed in the last quarter of year two (47% vs. 43%).
Public benefits receipt
- The study found that treatment participants received AFDC for fewer months over the study period than control participants, and that treatment participants received $1404 less in AFDC benefits over the study period. These differences were significant.
- The study found that fewer treatment participants than control participants were receiving AFDC in the last quarter of year two (54% vs. 61%). This difference was significant.
- The study found that control participants received $279 more than treatment participants in food stamps over the study period. This difference was statistically significant. The study also found that the control participants were more likely than the treatment participants to receive food stamps in the last quarter of year two (67% vs. 62%), a statistically significant finding.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to earnings, employment, and public benefits receipt. Performing multiple statistical tests on related outcomes makes it more likely that some impacts will be found statistically significant purely by chance and not because they reflect program effectiveness. The authors did not perform statistical adjustments to account for the multiple tests, so the number of statistically significant findings in these domains is likely to be overstated. Also, the study reports a less stringent statistical significance level, considering p-values of less than 0.10 to be significant, though it is standard practice to consider statistical significance if the p-value is less than 0.05. Only results that demonstrate a p-value of less than 0.05 are considered statistically significant in this profile.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was based on a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Grand Rapids LFA, and not to other factors.