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Evaluation of impacts of the Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) Program: Final report (Klerman et al. 2019)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Klerman, J. A., Saunders, C., Dastrup, E., Epstein, Z., Walton, D., Adam, T., & Barnow, B. S. (2019). Evaluation of impacts of the Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) Program: Final report. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates. [Comparison between multiple REA treatment group and single REA treatment group]

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) program in four states (Indiana, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin) on people’s public benefit receipt, employment, and earnings. The authors investigated similar research questions for three other contrasts, the profiles of which are available using the study search.
  • The authors used a randomized controlled trial to compare public benefit receipt outcomes among unemployment insurance (UI) claimants randomly assigned to states’ multiple REA treatment group as well as with the single REA treatment group. The authors drew on state administrative records from the UI benefit and case management systems for 28 weeks after random assignment. For this contrast, the study used data from New York and Washington.
  • The study found that weeks of UI benefits were significantly lower for the multiple REA treatment group than the single REA treatment group.
  • 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 REA program and not to other factors.

Intervention Examined

The Reemployment and Eligibility (REA) Program

Features of the Intervention

Since REA’s inception in 2005, 40 states have implemented the initiative to encourage rapid reemployment of UI claimants through a combination of in-person eligibility reviews and employment-focused case management. The set of REA programs examined in this study—in Indiana, New York, Washington, and Wisconsin—provided two types of services to UI claimants: (1) an initial, mandatory REA meeting shortly after claimants start to receive UI benefits, which included review of ongoing UI eligibility, and (2) reemployment assistance (including a one-on-one meeting in person at an American Job Center, labor market information, development of a reemployment plan, orientation to services available at American Job Centers, and registration to the state job bank) as well as referrals to reemployment services such as interview or resume-writing workshops. Some of the programs examined in this study also provided a third component: additional REA meetings, in person or by phone, that were typically shorter than the initial REA meeting and included another eligibility review, updates to the reemployment plan, and additional labor market information.

Features of the Study

The authors used a randomized controlled trial to estimate the impacts of the REA. Within each of four states, UI claimants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions (though the specific components of some conditions varied somewhat between states): control, partial REA treatment group, single REA treatment group, and multiple REA treatment group. This contrast compares the multiple REA treatment group with the single REA treatment group. The single REA treatment group members were invited to a mandatory, initial REA meeting that included reemployment assistance and referral to at least one reemployment service. The multiple REA treatment group added to the single REA condition an invitation to one or two additional meetings.

There was no multiple REA condition in Indiana and no single REA condition in Wisconsin or in some New York sites. Thus, the sample includes only Washington and 10 sites in New York because these are the only two states in the study to implement both treatment conditions. In total across the two states, 60,098 claimants were randomly assigned to either the single REA or multiple REA groups from March 2015 to April 2016. The analytic sample was 27,290 multiple REA treatment group members and 26,264 single REA treatment group members; the analytic sample included 22,783 people from Washington and 30,771 people in New York.

Drawing on data from state administrative UI benefit and case management systems, the authors used statistical models to compare the outcomes of claimants assigned to the two conditions, accounting for individual background characteristics, including demographic characteristics and earnings and UI benefit receipt history, and state and county characteristics, including urban status and unemployment rates. They report findings across both states together and for each state separately.

Findings

Public benefit receipt

  • The study found that the multiple REA group received 0.3 fewer weeks of UI benefits than the single REA group 28 weeks after random assignment, which was a significant difference. The study found that in New York, the multiple REA group received significantly fewer weeks of UI benefits than the single REA group, but there were no statistically significant differences in this outcome in Washington.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors found that the proportion of people in the multiple REA treatment group scheduled for second and third REA meetings varied across the states. For second meetings, 72 percent of people in the multiple REA group in New York were scheduled compared with just 27 percent in Wisconsin. And 48 percent of people in the multiple REA group in New York were scheduled for third meetings compared with just 4 percent in Wisconsin. This implementation finding suggests that there might be less contrast between the services received by the multiple REA and single REA conditions than expected.

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 REA program and not to other factors .

Reviewed by CLEAR

February 2020

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