Corson, W., Long, D., & Nicholson, W. (1985). Evaluation of the Charleston Claimant Placement and Work Test Demonstration. Department of Labor Unemployment Insurance Occasional Paper, 85(2), 1-113.
- The study’s objective was to determine the impact of a more-stringent work test and enhanced employment services on Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants’ benefits receipt and reemployment outcomes.
- The authors randomly assigned UI claimants to four conditions, comprising three distinct treatment groups and one control group. Administrative data sources, including UI and Employment Service (ES) records as well as records of claimants’ interactions with program staff provided outcomes for sample members in all four conditions.
- The study found that UI claimants in the more-intensive treatment conditions—treatment groups 1 and 2—collected UI benefits for fewer weeks than those in the control condition, by 0.76 weeks in treatment group 1 and 0.61 weeks in treatment group 2; these differences were statistically significant.
- 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 the Charleston Claimant Placement and Work Test Demonstration, and not to other factors.
Features of the Intervention
The Charleston Claimant Placement and Work Test Demonstration took place in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1983. UI claimants who received their first payment from February to December 1983, excluding job-attached claimants, were eligible for demonstration services provided through their local Job Service office. The demonstration sought to improve UI and ES coordination through additional training for staff and three potential modifications to the service delivery approach:
1. The first modification delayed Job Service registration for UI claimants until one week after the first payment was received, exempting the nearly 40 percent of eligible claimants who never received a check from registering and thus freeing Job Service resources for UI recipients. Claimants who did not register within one week were contacted and not paid until they reported to UI.
2. The second offered enhanced placement services to claimants, including a placement interview during which claimants received job referrals or job-development attempts, enhanced job referral activities, and job search trainings. Recipients of these services who were not reemployed within nine weeks were sent a second call-in notice requiring them to report to the ES for a return visit to receive further services.
3. The third modification added job search workshops for claimants who had been collecting UI benefits for four weeks. These workshops covered search and interview techniques and local labor market information.
To test the effectiveness of these program features, program officials randomly assigned eligible UI claimants to one of four conditions (three treatment and one control): Treatment group 1 members were subject to the delayed Job Service registration and offered enhanced placement services and job search workshops (for a total of up to three call-in notices). Treatment group 2 members were subject to the delayed Job Service registration and offered enhanced placement services (for a total of up to two call-in notices). Treatment group 3 members were subject to the delayed Job Service registration only (one call-in notice). The control group followed the predemonstration procedures used in South Carolina (no call-in notice and regular services) and could use ES voluntarily.
The study authors collected administrative data from regular UI and ES records, supplemented with demonstration data, to estimate the impacts of the three treatments, relative to the control condition.
Public benefits receipt
- The study found that UI claimants in the more-intensive treatment groups, treatment groups 1 and 2, collected benefits for fewer weeks than those in the control group, by 0.76 weeks in treatment group 1 and 0.61 weeks in treatment group 2. These differences were statistically significant.
- In addition, members of treatment groups 1 and 2 were 3 to 4 percent more likely to obtain a long-term job placement than those in the control group, and these differences were statistically significant.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
In 1983, as the demonstration was underway, Charleston’s unemployment rate fell by more than 2 percentage points and overall employment rose significantly. As a result, the authors cautioned that the study’s results might also be attributable to the improving labor market. In addition, the results might not be generalizable to other cities or states, because the demonstration activities were part of ongoing administrative system changes in Charleston.
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 the Charleston Claimant Placement and Work Test Demonstration, and not to other factors.