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Workforce program performance indicators for the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Upjohn Institute Technical Report no. 08-024). (Hollenback & Wei-Jang 2008)

Citation

Hollenbeck, K. & Huang, W-J. (2008). Workforce program performance indicators for the Commonwealth of Virginia. (Upjohn Institute Technical Report no. 08-024). Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Wagner-Peyser/Employment Service program on outcomes of employment, earnings, and credential completion.
  • The study used an interrupted time series (ITS) design to compare the outcomes of participants before and after participating in the Wagner-Peyser program. • The study found that the median earnings of Wagner-Peyser participants were $250 lower in the second quarter after program exit compared to their median earnings before program participation.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Wagner-Peyser program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
  • This study also examined the effectiveness of other workforce development programs. Please click here to find CLEAR profiles of those studies.

Intervention Examined

The Wagner-Peyser Program

Features of the Intervention

The Wagner-Peyser program, also known the U.S. Employment Service, provides services to help job seekers find employment. The services include job search assistance, referrals, placement services, and reemployment for recipients of unemployment insurance. These services can be accessed with or without the assistance of facility staff.

Features of the Study

The authors used an ITS design that compared the outcomes of participants before and after they participated in the Wagner-Peyser program. There were 237,000 Virginia residents who exited the program between July 2004 and June 2005 for whom wage records were available for 35 quarters. Males accounted for 53 percent of participants; 44 percent were white and 39 percent were African American. The majority of program participants were 21 to 50 years old (78 percent) and had a high school degree (74 percent).

Findings

  • Employment. The study found no statistically significant relationship between participation in the Wagner-Peyser program and employment rates during the second or fourth quarters after program exit.
  • Earnings. The study found that the median earnings of Wagner-Peyser participants in the second quarter after program exit were $250 lower than their median earnings before program entry. The study found no statistically significant relationship between participation in the Wagner-Peyser program and earnings in the fourth quarter after program exit.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The authors compared the outcomes of participants measured before and after they participated in the Wagner-Peyser program; there was no comparison group that did not participate in the program and could represent what might have occurred had individuals who chose to participate in the program not done so. The authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention to rule out the possibility that participants had preexisting increasing or decreasing trends in the outcomes examined. That is, if participants who had increasing employment or credential completion rates and/or earnings 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. Therefore, the study receives a low causal evidence rating. The authors note that participation in the program was likely to have been driven by the individual’s previous labor market distress.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors did not observe outcomes for multiple periods before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Wagner-Peyser program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Additional Sources

Hollenbeck, K. (2011). Short-term net impact estimates and rates of return. In D.J. Besharov & P.H. Cottingham (Eds.), The workforce investment act: implementation experiences and evaluation findings (pp. 371-295). Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

United States Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. (2010, March 9). Wagner-Peyser/Labor Exchange. Retrieved from doleta.gov/programs/wagner_peyser.cfm.

Reviewed by CLEAR

December 2016