Absence of conflict of interest.
- The study's objective was to examine the impact of the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration (ETJD) on employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt in seven sites. This profile focuses on the outcomes of the RecycleForce program in Indianapolis, Indiana. The authors investigated similar research questions for other sites, the profiles of which can be found here.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial of a transitional job program in Indianapolis, IN that assigned formerly incarcerated individuals to the transitional job group or control group. Using surveys and administrative records, the authors conducted statistical models to compare the outcomes of the transitional job and control group participants 30 months after the participants entered the study.
- The study found that transitional job program participants had significantly higher earnings and were more likely to be employed during the follow-up period compared to participants in the control group.
- This study receives a high evidence rating. This means we are confident that the estimated effects are attributable to RecycleForce, and not to other factors.
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services selected seven organizations to operate transitional job programs for low-income noncustodial parents or formerly incarcerated individuals. Each Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration program was structured differently but they all included enhancements aimed at improving outcomes compared to traditional transitional job programs. The enhancements included structural changes to how job placements occurred, enhanced support or assistance, and child support incentives.
The RecycleForce program in Indianapolis, IN was operated by RecycleForce, Inc. The program served individuals released from prison in the past 120 days. Participants were placed in subsidized employment at a social enterprise. They also received wraparound services including peer mentoring, case management, occupational training, and financial support.
Features of the Study
The study used a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of RecycleForce. Of the 998 participants who enrolled in the study between 2011 and 2013, 501 were randomly assigned to RecycleForce (treatment group) and 497 were assigned to the control group. Participants in the control group were given information about other services available in their communities. The majority of the participants were male (96 percent), with an average age of 34 years. Sixty-eight percent of participants were Black, 15 percent were Hispanic, and 15 percent were White. The study team examined the effects of the program on employment, earnings, and public benefits receipt outcomes 30 months after the participants entered the study. Data sources included a self-reported participant survey, the National Directory of New Hires, and administrative records. The authors used statistical models to compare the outcomes of treatment and control group participants.
Earnings and wages
- The study found that treatment participants earned significantly more during the 30-month follow-up period than participants in the control group ($13,680 vs. $8,905, respectively).
- The study also found that treatment participants earned significantly more in the last year of the follow-up period than control participants ($5,202 vs. $4,186).
- The study found that significantly more treatment participants than control participants were ever employed in the last year of the follow-up period (65 percent vs. 56 percent).
- The study also found that treatment participants were significantly more likely to report permanent employment at the time of the 30-month survey compared to control participants (33 percent vs. 25 percent).
- However, the study did not find a significant difference between the groups in employment in all four quarters of the last year of the follow-up period.
Public benefits receipt
- The study did not find any significant differences in receipt of food stamps between the treatment and control group participants.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study authors noted that the programs’ impacts may be understated since participants in the control group received other transitional employment services during the study. 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 RecycleForce, and not to other factors.