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Evaluation of the perceivable demand list pilot project (Behrens 1987)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Behrens, J. (1987). Evaluation of the perceivable demand list pilot project. Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Labor.

Highlights

  • The report’s objective was to evaluate the Perceivable Demand List (PDL) Pilot Project on the duration of unemployment insurance (UI) receipt among recent beneficiaries laid off from high-demand occupations. 
  • For this evaluation, UI recipients in Hackensack, New Jersey, who were recently laid off from high-demand occupations, as determined by the New Jersey Department of Labor, were randomly assigned to either participate in the PDL pilot or receive services as usual.
  • The PDL pilot reduced UI receipt by an average of 2.6 weeks, reduced total UI benefits received by $340, and reduced the proportion of UI recipients who exhausted their benefits by 9.8 percentage points.
  • The quality of the causal evidence presented in this report is high because it was a well-implemented randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the estimated impacts are attributable solely to the PDL Pilot, not other factors.

Intervention Examined

More stringent work search requirements

Features of the Intervention

The PDL Pilot Project was implemented by the New Jersey Department of Labor as a joint effort of the Division of Employment Services (ES) and the Division of Unemployment and Disability Insurance (UI) in Hackensack, New Jersey, from March 1985 to May 1986.

The PDL Pilot Project attempted to encourage rapid reemployment among UI recipients recently laid off from jobs in demand through a combination of stricter job search requirements, more frequent case management, and, when necessary, mandatory job search workshops or job training. Specifically, as a condition of UI receipt, PDL participants were required to make more weekly employer contacts than would ordinarily be required (five instead of three), meet more often with case managers than would ordinarily be required (in the fifth and ninth weeks of UI receipt), and participate in job search workshops or trainings if at the ninth-week interview they were still unemployed despite making satisfactory reemployment efforts.

Features of the Study

The study was a randomized controlled trial conducted by the New Jersey Department of Labor in Hackensack, a prosperous Northern New Jersey municipality in the mid-1980s with a local unemployment rate of less than 5 percent. Study participants were primarily women (67 percent), 36 to 38 years old, on average, with a high school education and base wages of approximately $14,000; most (51 percent) worked in clerical and sales occupations.

Participants who were identified as workers with skills in demand based on the occupation code assigned at the ES registration were required to participate and randomly assigned to the treatment or control group. Participants in the treatment group were subject to the PDL requirements, whereas those in the control group received services as usual.

Findings

Public benefits receipt

  • The PDL Pilot Project reduced unemployment insurance receipt by 2.6 weeks and $340, on average, and reduced the proportion of beneficiaries who exhausted their benefits by 9.8 percentage points.
  • Most treatment group participants completed the first and second case management interviews (80 and 71 percent, respectively); of participants still unemployed at the second interview, the authors found that the problem was more often a lack of job skills than insufficient job search.
  • Because most of the reduction in UI receipt occurred early in the service trajectory, (that is, before the first case management interview), the authors attributed the impacts primarily to the increased mandatory job search requirements of the program.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The study was a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. However, its relevance to other labor markets and time periods is limited by the fact that it was implemented as a pilot with relatively few sample members in one site during a period of exceptionally low unemployment.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is high because it is based on a well-conducted randomized controlled trial. This means we are confident that the effects estimated in the study are attributable solely to the PDL program, not to other factors.

Reviewed by CLEAR

August 2014

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