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 evaluation of the Riverside 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 Riverside, California 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 be employed, have higher earnings, and less likely to receive public benefits compared to control group participants.
This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Riverside Labor Force Attachment (LFA) program, and not to other factors.
Riverside 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 Riverside Labor Force Attachment (LFA) program operated under the JOBS program. The Riverside 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 Riverside site.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of Riverside’s 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 June 1991 and June 1993 were randomized to one of two treatment groups (LFA or HCD) or a control group. The authors assigned 3,384 applicants to the treatment group that received the HCD intervention and 3,342 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 (89 percent) female, with half (50 percent) between the ages of 25 and 34, and almost half (49 percent) identifying as white, non-Hispanic. About one third (33 percent) had never been married and over half (56 percent) had received at least a high school diploma or GED. Over half (56 percent) were parenting at least one child aged five or younger and 11 percent 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 $1276 more than control participants across the two study years and $556 more than control participants in year two. These differences were significant.
The study also found that treatment participants earned $108 more than control participants in the last quarter of year two. This difference was also significant.
The study found that treatment participants earned $21 more than control participants in average weekly pay at the end of year two, which was a significant difference.
Education and skills gains
The study did not find a significant difference in education outcomes between the treatment and control groups.
The study found that more treatment participants than control participants were ever employed in year two (45 percent vs. 37 percent), and were employed in all four quarters of year two (19 percent vs. 15 percent). 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 (31 percent vs. 27 percent).
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 $1308 less in AFDC benefits over the study period. These differences were significant.
The study found that significantly fewer treatment participants than control participants were receiving AFDC in the last quarter of year two (50 percent vs. 56 percent).
The study found that control participants received $353 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 (54 percent vs. 47 percent), 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.
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 Riverside LFA, and not to other factors.