Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) on earnings, education, employment, and public benefits receipt outcomes. This profile focuses on the comparison between the Labor Force Attachment (LFA) group and the control group in Grand Rapids. 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 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 were 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 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 LFA approach to JOBS typically 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 served AFDC recipients who were determined to not meet any JOBS exemption criteria (e.g., having children under the age of three; being pregnant; being employed).
Features of the Study
This study was part of a three-site investigation of LFA and Human Capital Development (HCD) approaches to the JOBS program, a component of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies. This profile focuses on the LFA vs. control group analysis for the Grand Rapids site.
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the Grand Rapids JOBS program. The study sought to enroll AFDC recipients who were determined to not meet any JOBS exemption criteria. Applicants who enrolled in the study between September 1991 and December 1992 were randomized to one of two treatment groups (LFA or HCD) or a control group. The authors assigned 994 applicants to the treatment group that received the LFA approach to the JOBS program and 928 applicants to the no-treatment control group that did not receive program services but could independently pursue similar services in the community. The control group was also eligible to receive childcare while engaging in employment or training-related activities. Across all study groups at this site, participants were almost all (98%) female, with half (50%) identifying as White non-Hispanic, and two-thirds (66%) were parenting at least one child aged five or younger. The data sources for the study were state unemployment insurance data, AFDC data, and a year two participant survey. The authors used statistical tests to compare the education, employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt outcomes of the treatment and control group members.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that treatment participants earned $1019 more than control participants across the two study years and $475 more than control participants in year two. These differences were significant.
Education and skills gains
- The study found no significant difference between treatment and control group participants' rates of obtaining a GED or high school diploma during the two-year study period.
- The study found that 74% of treatment group participants and 65% of control group participants were employed at some point during the study period; this difference was significant.
- The study found that the treatment group had a significantly higher average quarterly employment rate over the study period compared to the control group (40% vs. 32%).
- The study also found that significantly more treatment participants than control participants were employed in year two (41% vs. 35%).
Public benefits receipt
- The study found that 96% of treatment participants and 97% of control participants received AFDC at some point over the study period. This difference was significant.
- The study found that significantly fewer treatment participants than control participants were receiving AFDC in the last quarter of year two (58% vs. 65%).
- The study found that treatment participants received AFDC for fewer months over the study period than control participants, and that treatment participants received $1338 less in AFDC benefits over the study period. These differences were significant.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study authors estimated multiple related impacts on outcomes related to employment, earnings, and public benefit 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.