Absence of conflict of interest. This study was conducted by staff from Mathematica Policy Research. The review of this study was conducted by ICF Incorporated.
McConnell, S., Fortson, K., Rotz, D., Schochet, P., Burkander, P., Rosenberg, L., Mastri, A., & D’Amico, R. (2016). Providing public workforce services to job seekers: 15-month impact findings on the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs. Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research. [Comparison between Core-and-Intensive Services versus Core Services]
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult and Dislocated Worker programs on training, employment, earnings, and service receipt after 15 months. This summary focuses on the comparison between the group who received core-and-intensive services versus the group who received core services.
- The study was a randomized controlled trial, where customers in each local area were randomly assigned to one of three groups: full-WIA, core-and-intensive, or core. The authors compared the outcomes between the groups from baseline to 15 months after random assignment.
- The study found that core-and-intensive customers were significantly more likely than core customers to complete a training program, receive a training credential, and have higher earnings.
- 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 any estimated effects are attributable to the Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and not to other factors.
Adult and Dislocated Worker programs
Features of the Intervention
The WIA-funded Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs are two programs that provide employment and training services to assist individuals in finding employment. The programs provide three tiers of service based on individual need. Tier one is Core Services that are available to all customers and include information and online tools to help customers find jobs. Tier two is Intensive Services that includes staff assistance in job searching, career counseling, career assessment, short-term vocational training, and case management. Tier three is Training designed to help customers train for employment in fields that are in high-demand using individual training account funds. Although the programs provide comparable services, the eligibility requirements differ. Customers are eligible for the Adult program services if they are 18 years of age or older. Customers are eligible for Dislocated Worker program services if they are 1) terminated or laid off from a job, but show attachment to the workforce and are unlikely to return to that industry, 2) laid off due to a plant closure or downsizing, 3) self-employed and unemployment is due to economic conditions, or 4) displaced homemakers.
Features of the Study
The study was a randomized controlled trial. The authors randomly selected 30 Local Workforce Investment Areas (local areas) from 487 across six regions in the US. The local areas varied in size, funding, number of customers served, and degree of urbanicity. Two local areas declined participation and were replaced with areas similar in key characteristics to those originally selected. Two other sites dropped out of the evaluation too late for replacement; however, the authors used sampling weights to adjust for differences in sampling probabilities.
Study participants included all individuals living in the 28 local areas who were eligible for intensive services. When local area funds were limited, recipients of public assistance and low-income customers were prioritized. Of the individuals eligible for program services, some were excluded from the study based on certain circumstances to avoid jeopardizing the study design, which included Trade Adjustment Assistance participants, veterans, and customers referred by employers. The study included 35,665 customers who consented to participate and were randomly assigned to one of the three study groups: (1) “full-WIA” where customers could receive the full set of WIA core, intensive, and training services; (2) “core-and-intensive” where customers could receive core and intensive services only; and (3) “core” where customers could only receive core services. “Core-and-intensive” and “core” customers could receive the full suite of services after 15 months.
Data sources included a study registration form, a survey conducted 15 months after random assignment, WIA Standardized Record Data, and financial data from the local areas. The authors used weighted statistical models and t-tests to compare service receipt, employment, earnings, and training outcomes across the three groups.
- The study found no statistically significant differences between core-and-intensive customers and core customers in employment or hours worked 15 months after random assignment.
- The study found that core-and-intensive customers earned $600 more than core customers 15 months after random assignment, which was statistically significant.
Education and training
- The study found that 15 months after random assignment, core-and-intensive customers were significantly more likely than core customers to complete a training program (18% versus 15%) and receive a training credential (15% versus 11%). There were no statistically significant relationships between the groups and the likelihood to complete an educational program, receive a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, or to receive a postsecondary degree.
Public benefit receipt
- The study found no statistically significant differences between core-and-intensive customers and core customers in receipt of cash assistance, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services 15 months after random assignment.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The study authors noted that the programs’ impacts may be understated since customers were allowed to access other community-based employment and training services during the study. Take up of other services in the community might have contributed to the null findings for some outcomes. The authors also noted that random assignment rates for core-and-intensive and core groups were lower than full-WIA since programs did not want to deny services to a large proportion of customers. As a result, the authors administered the 15-month follow-up survey to a random sample of the full-WIA group.
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 Adult and Dislocated Worker programs and not to other factors.
Rotz, D., Burkander, P., Fortson, K., McConnell, S., Schochet, P., Grider, M., Molinari, L., & Sanchez-Eppler, E. (2016). Providing public workforce services to job seekers: 15-month impact findings on the WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, technical supplement. Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research