• 0.13,1.00
  • 0.13,1.25
  • 0.04,1.00
  • 0.05,1.00
  • -0.08,1.00

The Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program—OJT provided partially subsidized work opportunities to move Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients into unsubsidized permanent employment.

The Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program—OJT provided partially subsidized work opportunities to move Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients into unsubsidized permanent employment.

At the time this evaluation occurred, two Transitional Subsidized Employment programs were active in Los Angeles County: OJT and a paid work experience (PWE) program. OJT placed participants in a partially subsidized, six-month position at a for-profit, private-sector organization, where they were paid $8 an hour by the local Workforce Investment Board for the first two months. The intervention aimed to have participants make the transition into unsubsidized positions with the same employer when the subsidy ended. The average placement lasted two and a half 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 OJT or PWE; (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). OJT was offered in Los Angeles County, CA.

This evaluation of OJT also analyzes the PWE model and a comparison of OJT versus PWE.

Year evaluation began: 2012
Populations and employment barriers: Cash assistance recipients, Parents
Intervention services: Training, On-the-job training, Subsidized employment
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 $1,004 per year 0.048 1748
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $188 per year 0.009 1748
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 5% (in percentage points) 0.130 1748
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.042 1748
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-113 per year -0.041 1748
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-44 per year -0.016 1748
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Not supported unfavorable -4% (in percentage points) -0.077 1392

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
32%
White, not Hispanic
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 following study enrollment. The county continued to operate its OJT 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 Paid Work Experience (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). 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 OJT to Worksource Centers. Case managers and job developers attempted to place participants in jobs with for-profit employers. OJT placements could last up to six months. Participants were on the Workforce Investment Board’s payroll, earning minimum wage for the first two months of their placements. For the remainder of their placement, they were on the employer’s payroll, and the employer received a subsidy of up to $550 per month. In addition to participation in OJT, 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.

Implementation of the model varied by Worksource Center. For example, staff at some Worksource Centers had trouble identifying employers for the OJT program, resulting in a smaller-than-anticipated pool of potential employers. In addition, post-placement interaction between Worksource Center staff and participants varied. Although some staff maintained regular communication with participants after placement, more often, Worksource Center staff and participants interacted little after participants were placed in subsidized jobs.

Service intensity

The OJT model included up to six months of subsidized employment with a for-profit employer. Forty-two percent of individuals randomly assigned to the OJT intervention group were placed in subsidized employment. Placement rates varied across the 21 Worksource Centers, ranging from 0 percent (at 2 centers) to 76 percent. The average time from the point of random assignment to placement for OJT participants was 33 days, and the average duration of placement was 84 days.

The OJT model was labor intensive; it required substantial effort for job developers and case managers to recruit employers, identify potential job openings, and match participants’ skills and experiences with employers’ needs. To varying degrees, providers struggled to fully implement the OJT model. The Worksource Centers most successful in placing participants were able to devote consistent staff time to the program. There were other Worksource Centers that decided placing participants in OJT placements was not worth the effort required.

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 OJT, roughly 70 percent participated in such activities.

Partnerships

A variety of private-sector employers provided the subsidized jobs for participants. The five OJT employers with the most placements were a commercial photography studio, a wholesale food services company, a printing and copy shop, a fast-food restaurant, and a medical-product sales company.

Staffing

The primary staff operating the OJT 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. Worksource Center staff were responsible for job development, including recruiting employers to participate in the program. South Bay Workforce Investment Board staff oversaw Worksource Centers and processed subsidy payments. DPSS management 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 OJT averaged $7,587 (in 2016 dollars), which was $2,046 more than the comparison group. OJT did not have a significant impact on unsubsidized earnings, and therefore 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