Absence of conflict of interest.
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 existing REA group and partial REA group]
- 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 and employment outcomes among unemployment insurance (UI) claimants randomly assigned to each state’s existing REA program as well as with a partial REA condition. The authors drew on state administrative records from the UI benefit and case management systems for 28 weeks after random assignment and National Directory of New Hires data for two years after random assignment.
- The study found that the existing REA treatment group received significantly fewer weeks of UI benefits and worked significantly more quarters than the partial REA treatment group. These findings were consistent in some of the individual states.
- 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.
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. The partial REA treatment group was invited to a mandatory, abbreviated initial REA meeting and received no reemployment assistance. The single REA treatment group was 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. Each state had an existing REA condition before random assignment; the existing programs in New York, Washington, and Wisconsin were multiple REA, and the existing program in Indiana was single REA. This contrast compares the existing REA treatment group against the partial REA treatment group.
In total across all four states, 120,779 claimants were randomly assigned from March 2015 to April 2016 to either the existing REA treatment group or the partial REA group. For the pooled sample across all four states, the analytic sample included 59,778 existing REA treatment group members and 51,855 partial REA treatment group members. The analytic sample included 42,322 people from Indiana, 30,709 people from New York, 22,505 people from Washington, and 16,097 people from Wisconsin.
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 reported findings across all states together and for each state separately. The study used UI benefit and case management systems data to assess UI benefit receipt and National Directory of New Hires data for employment outcomes.
Public benefit receipt
- The study found that the existing REA group received 0.5 fewer weeks of UI benefits than the partial REA group 28 weeks after random assignment, which was a significant difference. In Indiana, New York, and Wisconsin, the existing REA treatment group also had significantly fewer weeks of UI benefit receipt than the partial REA treatment group, but there were no statistically significant differences in this outcome in Washington.
- The study found that the existing REA group was employed 0.03 quarters more than the partial REA group one year after random assignment, which was a significant difference. In Indiana and New York, the existing REA group also was employed a significantly higher number of quarters than the partial REA group, but there were no significant differences in this outcome in Washington or Wisconsin.
- Across the four states, the longest job tenure was significantly greater for the existing REA group than the partial REA group (a difference of 0.04 quarters). The existing REA group had significantly longer job tenure in Indiana than the partial REA group, but the other three states had no statistically significant differences in this outcome.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors found that less than 60 percent of claimants attended the initial REA meeting on time, and about 27 percent never attended. In addition, 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. Taken together, these implementation findings suggest that there might be less contrast between the services received by the existing REA and partial 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 .