• 0.05,1.00
  • 0.03,1.50
  • 0.04,1.50

The IJSA program provided unemployment insurance (UI) recipients with personalized services to help them find a new job at an early point after entering the UI system.

The IJSA program provided unemployment insurance (UI) recipients with personalized services to help them find a new job at an early point after entering the UI system.

Six to seven weeks into unemployment, participants were required to report to a job service orientation session. At the orientation, participants received information about IJSA services and scheduled an assessment interview. During the assessment interview, staff developed an individual service plan for the participant. Individual service plans varied, but the services specified in the plan were mandatory.

On average, participants completed services about two months after they began receiving UI benefits. A two-stage screening process first screened out UI claimants who were unlikely to face long periods of unemployment, then used a model that considered the local unemployment rate, job tenure, education, occupation, and industry to predict which of the remaining UI claimants were most likely to face long-term UI. The individuals identified as most likely to exhaust their UI benefits as a result of this two-step screening process were selected to participate in the demonstration program.

In addition to fulfilling the usual requirements for UI, individuals in IJSA were required to complete this program to continue receiving their full UI benefits.

The IJSA program was implemented in Washington, DC, and in multiple UI offices in Florida. IJSA was implemented along with two similar programs for UI claimants: the Structured Job Search Assistance (SJSA) and the IJSA with Training (IJSA+).

Year evaluation began: 1995
Populations and employment barriers:
Intervention services: Case management, 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 $544 per year 0.026 10014
Long-term Not supported favorable $669 per year 0.032 8689
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase employment Short-term Supported favorable 2% (in percentage points) 0.044 10014
Long-term Not supported favorable 0% (in percentage points) 0.012 8689
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-140 per year -0.051 0
Long-term Not supported unfavorable $6 per year 0.002 0
Very long-term No evidence to assess support
Increase education and training All measurement periods No evidence to assess support

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino of any race
Unknown, not reported, or other

Implementation details

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Dates covered by study

Participants received services between March 1995 and March 1996 in Florida, and between June 1995 and June 1996 in Washington, DC. Outcomes were measured for two years from the point the participant’s initial UI claim was filed.

Organizations implementing intervention

IJSA was implemented by the agencies that administer the UI program in each site, which was the Department of Employment Services in Washington, DC, and the Department of Labor and Employment Security (DLES) in Florida. UI offices in Washington, DC, are responsible only for administering UI benefits, whereas the local jobs and benefits offices operated by the Florida DLES are responsible for both UI claims and job service programs.

Populations served

Both sites used a two-step process to determine eligibility for IJSA, with the goal of focusing on UI claimants who had a higher likelihood of facing long periods of UI. In step one, three groups of UI claimants were screened out:

  • Claimants determined not at risk of facing long periods of UI (for example, workers with ties to a former employer)

  • Claimants with a long period of unemployment before UI application, as they would not meet IJSA’s goal of early intervention

  • Claimants who would face severe obstacles to participating in IJSA (for instance, claimants who were served by offices in Florida that were considered too small to provide services were excused from participation)

After the initial screening, each state ran regression models to predict the likelihood that remaining claimants would exhaust all of their UI benefits, considering factors such as the participant’s industry of employment before UI, past occupation, years of employment, educational attainment, and the local unemployment rate. UI claimants predicted by the regression model as likely to exhaust all UI benefits were selected for the IJSA demonstration program and assigned to a comparison group or to one of three intervention groups: IJSA, IJSA+, or SJSA. This brief describes the IJSA intervention only.
Characteristics of participants varied by location:

  • In Florida, the average participant was 43 years old and White (62 percent) or Hispanic (22 percent), with limited educational attainment (26 percent had no high school diploma, and 56 percent had no education beyond a high school diploma). The main prior industries of employment among Florida participants were services, wholesale and retail trade, and manufacturing, with the majority of participants serving an average of four years in a clerical or sales role at prior jobs.

  • In Washington, DC, the average participant was 38 years old and Black (83 percent), and held a high school diploma (55 percent) or associate’s degree (24 percent). The majority of participants worked in the services industry (57 percent) before unemployment, in a clerical or sales role (59 percent).

Individuals who filed for UI cash benefits after a job loss in UI offices in Florida and Washington, DC, received an initial eligibility determination and, if eligible, were randomly assigned to a comparison group or one of three intervention groups: SJSA, IJSA, or IJSA+. For UI claimants who were determined eligible, participation in their assigned services was mandatory, and they could lose their UI benefits if they failed to attend.

Description of services implemented

All IJSA participants received individualized assessments and service plans based on their circumstances. The initial orientation and assessment interview were mandatory, as were any services added to an individual’s service plan after the initial assessment. Additional mandatory services varied among participants and included group job-search workshops, individual job-search activities, testing, or additional job counseling. Participants who were not assigned to these services during intake could elect to participate voluntarily.

The demonstration program was implemented as planned in both sites. Although the study designers had anticipated that claimants would be aggressively assigned to services, most IJSA participants only participated in the mandatory services and none of the optional service offerings. Few participants were assigned to testing or a job-search workshop as part of their individual service plans in either site, though group services such as job-search workshops were more commonly assigned in Florida than in DC. In DC, the most commonly assigned individual intervention service was one-on-one counseling.

Because participants in Florida tended to have shorter durations of UI, about a quarter of UI claimants were excused from participating in the mandatory orientation (offered at roughly six to seven weeks after job loss) because they had obtained a new job or been recalled to a prior job by that time; only 7 percent of DC claimants were excused from orientation. No notable changes in services occurred over the period of the study, although DC did report some claimants received the assessment interview without participating in the orientation session, and Florida was only able to offer orientations on a biweekly basis (rather than weekly, as in DC) because of lower enrollment in the scattered sites.

Service intensity

The average IJSA orientation lasted 30 minutes at Florida sites and 45 minutes at DC sites, and the initial assessment took an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes at each site. These were the only services required for all IJSA participants, although 74 percent of DC participants attended follow-up one-on-one counseling sessions, which lasted an average of 30 minutes.
Additional services were optional unless assigned at intake, and they tended to be poorly attended. In Florida, the most commonly assigned additional service was testing, which lasted 4 hours on average but which only 11 percent of IJSA participants attended.

Comparison conditions

All UI claimants assigned to the comparison condition were required to fulfill the usual job search requirements to continue receiving unemployment compensation benefits. They could receive any services available in the community.


The study did not discuss any partners involved in implementing the intervention.


The DC site used two staffers to lead the mandatory orientation, while the Florida site used one staffer. DC staff had office space and training for conducting one-on-one counseling services but had limited physical space and fewer staff who had been trained to lead group services. The study authors did not include additional information on the number of staff or their training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

IJSA was implemented in the Washington, DC, metro area, including several suburban Maryland and Virginia offices, and at 10 offices throughout the state of Florida: Clearwater, Davie, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce, Hialeah, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando, Pensacola, and St. Augustine. Several potential offices in Florida were excluded based on their size or the suitability of the population served (for example, areas where UI claims were largely based on seasonal agricultural layoffs by individuals who would likely not be actively seeking employment).

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

Funding for the IJSA demonstration came from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Unemployment Insurance Service.

Cost information

IJSA cost $199 per participant in DC and $97 per participant in Florida. The individualized approach to services was more cost-effective in both sites than the traditional, structured approach to job search assistance, which cost the government $286 per participant in DC and $241 per participant in Florida. A cost-benefit analysis determined that the DC program reduced UI benefit receipt and increased individual’s future employment and earnings.

Studies of this intervention

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Study quality rating Study counts per rating
High High 2