Heinrich, C., Mueser, P., & Troske, K. (2008). Workforce Investment Act non-experimental net impact evaluation. Columbia, MD: IMPAQ International. [Adult sample]
- The study’s objective was to examine the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Program’s impact on workers’ employment and earnings in 12 states.
- The authors analyzed administrative data to compare the employment and earnings outcomes of people receiving different tiers of WIA Adult Program services with two different matched comparison groups for 16 quarters after program entry.
- The study found that WIA Adult Program services had positive impacts on earnings and employment in most quarters examined. Those WIA Adult Program participants who received training earned more and were more likely to be employed than those who received only core and intensive services.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the WIA Adult Program services, but other factors might also have contributed.
- The report also examined the impacts of WIA Dislocated Worker services; that profile is available here.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Program
Features of the Intervention
The WIA Adult Program was authorized by Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and was superseded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), effective in July 2015. The Adult Program services, which remained essentially the same under WIOA, were designed to provide quality employment and training services to eligible workers. Administered through local workforce investment areas, the Adult Program served all people ages 18 years and older through core services; these included job placement assistance, skills assessments, and provision of information on the labor market, among other services. In addition, those unable to obtain a job through core services alone could receive intensive services—which included counseling and specialized assessments—and vouchers for attending training. Recipients of public assistance and other low-income people received priority for intensive and training services in local workforce investment areas in which program funds were limited. In addition, some local areas provided supportive services such as child care, transportation, and work-related financial assistance to those who qualified.
Features of the Study
The study compared earnings and employment outcomes for 16 quarters after program entry among three different groups: (1) WIA Adult Program participants compared with individuals who registered for Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Employment Services (ES); (2) WIA Adult Program participants who received only core and/or intensive services compared with UI or ES registrants; and (3) WIA Adult Program participants who received core and/or intensive services compared with participants who received training. For each of these comparisons, the authors used a statistical technique called propensity-score matching to create comparison groups that were as similar as possible based on calendar quarter of program entry; demographic characteristics, including gender, age, educational attainment, and race or ethnicity; and employment and program participation history. The authors used WIA, UI, and ES administrative data from 12 states to estimate differences in employment and earnings between each pair of groups after adjusting for demographic characteristics and preprogram employment and earnings. The authors presented results by gender.
The authors matched 89,551 participants in the WIA Adult Program to one or multiple comparison cases from a comparison sample of almost 3 million people. Of the WIA Adult Program participants, 65,482 received core and/or intensive services and 17,651 received training.
- New Mexico
Earnings and wages
- The study found that participants who received services through the WIA Adult Program earned significantly more in the four years after program entry than UI and ES recipients. Among females, WIA Adult Program participants earned $500 to $600 more per quarter. Among males, WIA Adult Program participants earned $300 to $700 more per quarter.
- WIA Adult Program participants receiving training had significantly higher earnings and employment outcomes than core and/or intensive services participants in some, but not all, quarters following program entry.
- In addition, employment levels for participants who received services through the WIA Adult Program were significantly higher than the matched comparison group of UI and ES recipients throughout the study. The employment rate difference was highest in the first year after WIA Adult Program entry, but remained statistically significant in the remaining quarters, with WIA Adult Program females and males 4 to 8 percentage points and 5 to 7 percentage points more likely to be employed, respectively.
- The subset of participants in the WIA Adult Program receiving core and/or intensive services had significantly higher employment levels and earned significantly more than the matched comparison group of UI and ES recipients in all quarters following program entry for both males and females.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
In some of the states included in the analysis, the core services offered through the WIA Adult Program were very similar to services offered through ES. Therefore, comparisons between the WIA Adult Program participants and the matched comparison groups in those states might be smaller than those in states where the contrast between WIA and ES services was more distinct.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the WIA Adult Program services, but other factors might also have contributed.
Mueser, P., Heinrich, C., Troske, K., Jeon, K., & Kahvecioglu, D. (2010). New estimates of public employment and training program net impacts: A nonexperimental evaluation of the Workforce Investment Act program. Department of Economics working paper, no. 1003. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri.
Besharov, D., & Cottingham, P. (2011). The Workforce Investment Act: Implementation experiences and evaluation findings. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
Heinrich, C., Mueser, P., Troske, K., Jeon, K. & Kahvecioglu, D. (2013). Do public employment and training programs work? IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2(1):6.