• 0.18,1.00
  • 0.21,2.25
  • 0.10,1.00
  • 0.21,1.00
  • 0.03,2.50
  • 0.09,2.25

The Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program—PWE provided fully subsidized work opportunities and support with job searches to increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients’ employability.

The Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program—PWE provided fully subsidized work opportunities and support with job searches to increase Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients’ employability.

At the time this evaluation occurred, two subsidized employment programs were active in Los Angeles County: PWE and an on-the-job training (OJT) program. PWE placed each participant in a fully subsidized, six-month position at a public-sector or nonprofit organization, where they were paid minimum wage by the local Workforce Investment Board. Case management was provided to assist participants in searching for unsubsidized employment, and in the final month of subsidized employment, participants also received 16 hours of paid time to engage in a job search. The average placement lasted six months.

TANF recipients who were not exempt from TANF work requirements were referred to Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN), the county’s welfare-to-work program. (Work requirement exemptions could be due to having very young children, having a disability, or caring for an ill or disabled person.) Participants who were not able to find unsubsidized work during their four-week job search under GAIN were recruited for Transitional Subsidized Employment if they met the following additional criteria: (1) able to work the hours required by PWE or OJT; (2) had at least five months of TANF eligibility remaining; (3) did not participate in Transitional Subsidized Employment in the last year; (4) did not have major employment barriers; and (5) had demonstrated to staff that they could and wanted to work (assessed by staff in various ways across locations). PWE was offered in Los Angeles County, CA. The evaluation of PWE also analyzes the OJT model, and a comparison of the PWE and OJT.

Year evaluation began: 2012
Populations and employment barriers: Cash assistance recipients, Parents
Intervention services: Subsidized employment, Work readiness activities, Job search assistance
Setting(s): Tested in multiple settings

Effectiveness rating and effect by outcome domain

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Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $2,154 per year 0.103 1745
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $920 per year 0.044 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 7% (in percentage points) 0.166 1745
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 3% (in percentage points) 0.079 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-498 per year -0.181 1745
Long-term Supported favorable $-231 per year -0.084 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -5% (in percentage points) -0.098 1398

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
32%
White
7%
Hispanic or Latino of any race
55%
Asian
3%
Another race
4%

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

In 2009 and 2010, Los Angeles County expanded its subsidized employment program using designated federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. For the study, the county adapted its version of the subsidized employment program implemented under ARRA. The study enrolled individuals between November 2012 and November 2013, and researchers tracked participant outcomes for 30 months after study enrollment. The county continued to operate its PWE program after the study concluded, though some features changed after the study period ended.

Organizations implementing intervention

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS), through its GAIN program, operated the Transitional Subsidized Employment Program. The county contracted with South Bay Workforce Investment Board to oversee the administration and payment of subsidies. South Bay, in turn, oversaw 21 Worksource Centers located across Los Angeles County that provided direct services to program participants.

Populations served

The Transitional Subsidized Employment Program served TANF recipients who were not able to find unsubsidized work during their four-week job search under GAIN and who met the following additional criteria: (1) were able to work the hours required by PWE or On-the-Job Training (OJT), (2) had at least five months of TANF eligibility remaining, (3) did not participate in Transitional Subsidized Employment in the last year, (4) did not have major employment barriers, and (5) had demonstrated to staff that they could and wanted to work (assessed by staff in various ways across locations). Participation was not mandatory, but TANF recipients were subject to work participation requirements unless they qualified for an exemption for circumstances such as having very young children, having a disability, or caring for an ill or disabled person. Participation in the county’s subsidized employment program was one way TANF recipients could meet these requirements. Of the individuals in the study, 55 percent identified as Hispanic, and 32 percent identified as Black. The majority (67 percent) of sample members were unmarried, and all sample members had children.

Description of services implemented

GAIN workers referred study participants randomly assigned to PWE to Worksource Centers. Case managers and job developers attempted to place participants in jobs with nonprofit and public-sector employers. Worksource Center staff had access to a shared list of employers maintained by South Bay. PWE placements could last up to six months. Participants were on the Workforce Investment Board’s payroll, earning minimum wage for the entirety of their placement. In the final month of subsidized employment, participants also received eight hours of paid time to engage in a job search. In addition to participation in PWE, study participants continued to be eligible for other GAIN services such as job searching and job-readiness preparation, vocational training and education, community service, and typical supportive services available for TANF recipients.

Most Worksource Centers did not have trouble placing PWE participants. Under the PWE model, Worksource Center staff had access to a shared list of employers maintained by South Bay, and they could also initiate new placements with nonprofits and local government agencies. A wide array of employers was available to them, many of which accepted almost any participant the centers referred, sometimes without even requiring the individual to interview.

Service intensity

The PWE model included up to six months of subsidized employment with a nonprofit or public-sector employer. Seventy-nine percent of individuals randomly assigned to the PWE intervention group were placed in subsidized employment. Placement rates varied across the 21 Worksource Centers, ranging from 49 percent to 100 percent. The average time from the point of random assignment to placement for PWE participants was 24 days, and the average duration of placement was 149 days.

Although Los Angeles County intended for PWE participants to have eight hours of paid job-search time in the final month of their subsidized placements, this did not regularly occur. Worksource Centers varied in the amount of unsubsidized-job-search support they gave participants during the subsidy period. Roughly half of the Worksource Centers provided job leads by email or phone to participants throughout the subsidy period, whereas others waited until the last few weeks of or after the end of the subsidy period.

Comparison conditions

The study used a randomized controlled design in which eligible participants were randomly assigned to either receive OJT, PWE, or business-as-usual services for GAIN participants. The comparison group receiving business-as-usual services had access to all services other than PWE and OJT, such as job search and job-readiness preparation, vocational training and education, community service, and typical supportive services available for TANF recipients (for example, child care, transportation subsidies, and funds to purchase clothing or tools for their jobs).

Roughly 80 percent of comparison group members participated in a GAIN activity such as job searching and job-readiness preparation, vocational training and education, or community service. Among those randomly assigned to PWE, roughly 62 percent participated in such activities.

Partnerships

A variety of nonprofit and public-sector employers provided the subsidized jobs for participants. PWE employers included a food bank, the County Office of Education, two Worksource Centers, and a nonprofit human services agency.

Staffing

The primary staff operating the PWE program were GAIN service workers and Worksource case managers and job developers. Specialized GAIN staff, known as Transitional Subsidized Employment liaisons, enrolled participants into the study. South Bay Workforce Investment Board staff oversaw Worksource Centers and processed subsidy payments. DPSS oversaw the overall program. The study authors did not include specific information on the number of staff or their training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

The program took place in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country, with almost 10 million residents. The county has a diverse labor market. Multiple areas have large numbers of low-wage jobs, including the downtown area and other densely populated cities in the county.

Fidelity measures

The study did not discuss any tools to measure fidelity to the intervention model.

Funding source

DPSS funded program services as part of its normal welfare-to-work program.

Cost information

The per-person costs for PWE averaged $10,242 (in 2016 dollars), which was $4,701 more than the comparison group. Although the PWE model did result in a significant impact on individual earnings ($3,914), the study authors did not present results from a formal benefit-cost analysis.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1