• 0.14,1.00
  • 0.12,2.25
  • 0.06,1.00
  • 0.08,1.00

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. This evaluation directly compared PWE to a separate intervention, OJT, in order to better understand which of the two interventions might be more effective; the distinctive features of PWE include job search assistance from case managers and full subsidies for work experience that also covered some time searching for jobs.

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. This evaluation directly compared PWE to a separate intervention, OJT, in order to better understand which of the two interventions might be more effective; the distinctive features of PWE include job search assistance from case managers and full subsidies for work experience that also covered some time searching for jobs.

At the time this evaluation occurred, two Transitional Subsidized Employment programs were active in Los Angeles County: PWE and an on-the-job (OJT) training 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 OJT versus PWE. The effectiveness of PWE when compared with OJT indicates the effect of being referred to a set of services that includes those unique to PWE; the comparison indicates how much better the offer of PWE meets participants’ needs than the offer of OJT. The Workforce Investment Board only paid participants’ wages for the first two months of each OJT job placement, compared to all six months of each PWE placement; this meant that, starting in the third month, employers had to add OJT participants to their payroll and would receive a partial subsidy. PWE participants were placed in the nonprofit and public sectors, whereas OJT participants were placed in the for-profit sector. Unlike PWE participants, those in OJT could not receive wages for any time spent searching for jobs, nor did they have access to job search assistance from case managers. The evaluation of PWE as compared with OJT also tested PWE and OJT separately, compared with other services available in the community.

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

Back to top
View table help Need more context or definitions for the Outcome Domain table below? View the "Table help" to get more insight into terms, measures, and definitions.

Scroll to the right to view the rest of the table columns

Outcome domain Term Effectiveness rating Effect in 2018 dollars and percentages Effect in standard deviations Sample size
Increase earnings Short-term Supported favorable $1,150 per year 0.055 1745
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $753 per year 0.036 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 1% (in percentage points) 0.036 1745
Long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.037 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-385 per year -0.140 1745
Long-term Supported favorable $-187 per year -0.068 1745
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods Little evidence to assess support unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.022 1398

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

Back to top

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 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 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 did want 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 PWE 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 and earned 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.

All 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.

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.

Los Angeles County intended for PWE participants to have eight hours of paid job-search time in the final month of their subsidized placements, but this did not regularly occur. Worksource Centers varied in the amount of unsubsidized-job-search support they gave participants during the subsidy period.

Roughly 62 percent of the PWE intervention group 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.)

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. This intervention considers the OJT group as the comparison condition.

The OJT model included up to six months of subsidized employment with a for-profit employer. Case managers and job developers were responsible for placing OJT participants. 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.

Although most Worksource Centers did not have trouble placing PWE participants, providers struggled to varying degrees to fully implement the OJT model. 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 that chose not to put the effort into making OJT placements) to 76 percent.

Under the PWE model, Worksource Center staff had access to a shared list of employers maintained by South Bay. By comparison, the OJT model required job developers and case managers at Worksource Centers to recruit employers, identify potential job openings, and match participants’ skills and experiences with employers’ needs.

Partnerships

A variety of nonprofit and public-sector employers provided the subsidized jobs for PWE participants. PWE employers included a food bank, the County Office of Education, two Worksource Centers, and a nonprofit human services agency. For-profit employers provided the subsidized jobs for OJT 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 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 $2,655 more than the OJT group. The study authors did not present results from a formal benefit-cost analysis.

Studies of this intervention

Back to top
Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 1