Gordon, K.H. (2012). Pre- and post- wage differences of trade adjustment assistance job training participants in Arkansas. (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses A&I. (1266388644).
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program on the wages of dislocated workers.
- The author used a nonexperimental method to compare the earnings outcomes of participants before and after they participated in the TAA program. The author also compared the change in earnings between those who completed the TAA-funded training and those who started but did not complete TAA-funded training
- The study found that participants had significantly lower wages in the three quarters after TAA program participation compared with the three quarters before program participation. The study also found that the change in wages differed by education level and employment tenure.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not account for pre-intervention trends in earnings or account for differences between the treatment and comparison groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to TAA program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program
Features of the Intervention
Established under the Trade Act of 1974 and amended through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002, the TAA Program was intended to provide aid to adult workers (18 and older) within an industry or group whose employment had been lost or reduced as a result of foreign trade competition. The available services included employment and case management services, job search assistance and allowances, training, relocation allowances, and some cash income supports. Eligible employees must have lost their jobs or have been notified of unemployment risk because of import competition or shifts in foreign production.
Features of the Study
The author compared the outcomes of participants before and after they participated in the TAA Program. She also compared the outcomes of TAA participants who completed training with the outcomes of those who started but did not complete training. Using pre-post analysis, she compared the average wages of participants in the three quarters before and three quarters after participation. Quarterly records were collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services for each quarter for those who participated in the TAA Program from July 2006 to June 2010. The study included a sample of 203 workers who completed training through the TAA Program in Arkansas as well as 108 workers who started but did not complete the same program.
- Earnings. The study found that the average quarterly wages of TAA Program participants significantly decreased by $2,424 in the three quarters after program participation compared with the three quarters before the program. Changes in earnings between those who completed training and those who started but did not complete training were not significantly different.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The author compared the outcomes of participants measured before and after they participated in the intervention. For these types of designs, the author must observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention to rule out the possibility that participants had increasing or decreasing trends in the outcomes examined before enrollment in the program. That is, if participants who had increasing wages tended to enroll in the program, we would anticipate further increases over time, even if they didn’t participate in the program. Without knowing the trends before program enrollment, we cannot rule this out. For the analyses comparing training completers with those who did not complete training, the author did not account for preexisting differences between the groups being compared. Therefore, the study receives a low causal evidence rating.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not account for pre-intervention trends in earnings or account for differences between the treatment and comparison groups. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to TAA Program; other factors are likely to have contributed.