Absence of conflict of interest.
Walker, M. A. (2006). Workforce investment act services: Effect on dislocated worker reemployment (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses. Accession No. UMI 3244857. [Study 1: Contrast: WIA employment services vs. no service]
- The study’s objective was to examine the effects of employment services offered through the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) on employment and earnings outcomes. The author investigated similar research questions in another study, whose profile can be found [here]. The other study examined the effects of WIA’s employment and training services on employment and earnings.
- The author used a statistical model in a nonexperimental analysis to compare the outcomes of workers who lost their jobs for reasons including being laid off and either did or did not receive WIA employment services. The author used data from the state Employment Commission’s dislocated worker database, Workforce Investment Act Title IB Standardized Record Data.
- The study found a statistically significant, negative relationship between the WIA employment services and employment. Those receiving employment services had longer durations of unemployment than those who did not, by about 21 weeks. There were no statistically significant relationships between the WIA employment services and earnings.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated relationships are attributable to the WIA employment services; other factors are likely to have contributed to those relationships.
The Workforce Investment Act (WIA)
Features of the Intervention
The WIA Adult and Dislocated Worker Programs were authorized by Title I of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and superseded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), effective in July 2015. The Adult and Dislocated Worker 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 anyone age 18 and older, whereas the Dislocated Worker Program served people who had been laid off from their jobs, including those whose places of business had closed permanently and who were unlikely to return to their previous industry. WIA provided a variety of employment services for unemployed people at One-Stop centers, now called American Job Centers. Eligible workers could receive three tiers of services through WIA: core, intensive, and training services. In addition, some local areas provided supportive services such as child care, transportation, and work-related financial assistance to those who qualified.
Core services were provided to all customers who sought employment, educational information, or upgrades to their skill sets or employment. Core services were the first ones customers received from a One-Stop location. They included needs assessments, screening for service and program eligibility, a review of the customer’s occupational level and skill level, and career planning. In addition, customers may have received assistance with job searches or placement, and could engage in workshops and discussions. They could also access a list with detailed information on eligible training providers. Core services were typically activities that people did on their own with the help of software, online supports, and employment resources.
Intensive services were offered to people who could not find employment through core services. Intensive services included career assessments, counseling (individual or group), support services such as child care and mileage reimbursement, and an individual employment plan, which was used to determine if the person would require more services.
Training services were offered to those who could not receive employment through core and intensive services. The training services involved classes in occupational skills and on-the-job training provided by private firms. People could be selected for training services in a variety of ways, including being referred by a training provider or program staff member, entering by their own choice, or progressing through the prior core and intensive services offered by WIA. Training was provided in areas with employment growth and had to be completed in two years. People who completed the training received an educational credential such as a diploma, degree, or skill certificate.
Features of the Study
This study is a nonexperimental analysis that included 919 people who lost their jobs for reasons including being laid off between January 2000 and December 2004 in the geographic area served by 17 One-Stop centers in Virginia. The author used a statistical model to compare outcomes of 841 people who received WIA employment services (the treatment group) and 78 people matching on demographic characteristics who did not receive WIA services (the comparison group). The statistical model did not include any control variables for prior employment and earnings. The study data were from the state Employment Commission’s dislocated worker database, Workforce Investment Act Title IB Standardized Record Data.
- There was a statistically significant, positive relationship between the WIA employment services and the number of weeks of unemployment. The treatment group had longer durations of unemployment, of about 21 weeks.
Earnings and wages
- There was no statistically significant relationship between the WIA employment services and hourly wages at reemployment.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The author did not account for preexisting differences between the groups before program participation. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the WIA employment services—could explain the observed differences in outcomes.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated relationships are attributable to the WIA employment services; other factors are likely to have contributed.