• 0.29,1.00
  • -0.09,1.25
  • 0.06,4.00
  • 0.18,4.00
  • 0.03,1.00
  • 0.02,4.00
  • -0.02,1.00
  • 0.00,1.25
  • 0.01,4.00
  • -0.01,5.00

Job Corps provided individualized education, vocational training, residential support, comprehensive health services, counseling, and job placement assistance to economically disadvantaged youth. These services were typically provided in a residential setting with the goal of helping participants become more responsible and obtain employment.

Job Corps  is currently offering some services remotely in response to COVID-19
Job Corps is currently offering some services remotely in response to COVID-19

Job Corps provided individualized education, vocational training, residential support, comprehensive health services, counseling, and job placement assistance to economically disadvantaged youth. These services were typically provided in a residential setting with the goal of helping participants become more responsible and obtain employment.

Job Corps provided education, training, and health services in a one-stop residential setting. The Job Corps education component was individualized and self-paced, and it included GED preparation and education about home and family living as well as remedial, consumer, driver, and health education. The vocational training component was also individualized and self-paced, and it included training in a range of trades, such as business, clerical, health, construction, culinary arts, building and apartment maintenance, and other vocations. Youth typically lived at Job Corps Centers while participating in education and vocational training, though some continued to live at home. Job Corps Centers offered comprehensive health services to residential and nonresidential youth for as long as they remained in the program. These services included medical and dental examinations and treatment; drug, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infection screenings; immunizations; counseling for mental health concerns; and guidance in hygiene and self-care. As part of the counseling component, Job Corps Centers employed counselors and residential advisors who helped youth plan their educational and vocational pathways, provided motivation, and supported youth during the program and through the transition to jobs after they exited the program. After completing education and vocational training, placement agencies that partnered with Job Corps helped youth find jobs by providing job development services and referrals, assisting with interviewing and resume writing, and distributing a stipend after youth completed the program. As of 2020, Job Corps Centers continue to offer similar services to eligible participants.

Youth typically participated in the program for eight months, but the length of participation varied. Job Corps served youth ages 16 to 24 who were disadvantaged (defined as living in a household that received public cash assistance or its equivalent) or who had income below the poverty level, were living in a debilitating environment, and were in need of education and training. Youth could not have serious behavior or medical problems and needed to have adequate child care, if they had a child. Job Corps was evaluated in each of the 48 contiguous states and Washington, DC.

Year evaluation began: 1994
Populations and employment barriers: Young adults (aged 16-24)
Intervention services: Academic instruction, Health services, Substance use disorder treatment and mental health services, Physical health services, Supportive services, Training, Occupational or sectoral training, Soft skills training, 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 Not supported unfavorable $-209 per year -0.010 15138
Long-term Supported This intervention was assessed as supported for this domain, meaning it achieved one or more statistically significant, favorable effects.  However, the intervention has an average effect size that is unfavorable because the average includes all effects in this domain - both statistically significant and favorable effects and statistically insignificant but unfavorable effects. * $-84 per year -0.004 15138
Very long-term Little evidence to assess support unfavorable $-21 per year -0.001 15138
Increase employment Short-term Mixed support favorable 4% (in percentage points) 0.102 15138
Long-term Supported favorable 1% (in percentage points) 0.014 15138
Very long-term Not supported unfavorable -1% (in percentage points) -0.019 15138
Decrease benefit receipt Short-term Supported favorable $-85 per year -0.031 11641
Long-term Supported favorable $-47 per year -0.017 11313
Very long-term Little evidence to assess support favorable $-58 per year -0.021 15127
Increase education and training All measurement periods Mixed support favorable 9% (in percentage points) 0.179 11313

Participant race and ethnicity
Black or African American
White, not Hispanic
Hispanic or Latino of any race
Another race

Implementation details

Back to top

Dates covered by study

This study evaluated Job Corps from November 1994 through February 1996 and continued to measure outcomes among study participants for 20 years after the initial evaluation period. As of 2020, Job Corps Centers continue to offer similar services to eligible participants.

Organizations implementing intervention

During the study period, Job Corps was implemented by public and private service providers under contract with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) through agreements with 9 DOL regional offices. They reached out to and screened applicants, provided program services at the 105 Job Corps Centers, or provided job placement services. These organizations included, but were not limited to, private nonprofits, for-profit service providers and employment agencies, and state employment agencies.

Populations served

Job Corps participants were volunteers who met the following criteria:

  • Were ages 16 to 24 (the average age of all participants was 19).
  • Were from disadvantaged backgrounds (defined as living in a household that received public cash assistance or its equivalent) or had incomes below the poverty level.
  • Lived in a debilitating environment (not defined specifically by the authors).
  • Were in need of education and training.

Among all study participants, 59 percent were male, and 77 percent lacked a high school diploma or equivalent. Overall, nearly 75 percent of participants were from a racial or ethnic minority group, with 50 percent identifying as Black or African American, not Hispanic; 18 percent as Hispanic or Latino of any race; 4 percent as American Indian or Alaska Native; and 2 percent as Asian or Other Pacific Islander.

Description of services implemented

Job Corps consisted of multiple overlapping features that formed a comprehensive and intensive program. These features included the following:

  • The core residential living component. Though some participants received services while living at home, most Job Corps participants lived full time at Job Corps Centers where they received the education, training, and health care components. The residential component also included community meals, entertainment, sports and recreation, communal governance and maintenance, and residential counseling that assisted with soft-skills training and transition to life after Job Corps.A basic education component that was tailored to each participant’s academic and personal needs, which included GED preparation; family health and relationships; remedial English and math; and consumer, driver, and personal health courses.
  • An occupational training component offered by national labor and business organizations that offered training in several different vocations (typically business and clerical, construction, culinary arts, and building and apartment maintenance). Similar to the basic education component, the training component was individualized and paced according to each participant’s needs.
  • A health services component that provided medical examinations; testing and treatment for drug use, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancies; immunizations; dental care; mental health services; and instruction focused on personal hygiene, preventative medicine, and self-care.
  • A final job placement component, which was conducted by contracted job placement agencies that assisted participants with job development, job interview preparation, and resume writing. Each participant received a stipend called the “readjustment allowance” for completing the program.

Service intensity

Job Corps was open entry and open exit, meaning the length of participation varied for each participant. Because of the size and reach of Job Corps, different Job Corps Centers varied in how they conducted their programs, which the study did not detail at length. The average period of participation, however, was 8 months, with 28 percent of enrollees participating for fewer than 3 months and nearly a quarter of participants participating for more than a year.

Comparison conditions

All members of the comparison and intervention groups were youth who applied to Job Corps for the first time from November 1994 to December 1995 and were deemed eligible for Job Corps by February 1996. Individuals assigned to the comparison group were not allowed to enroll in Job Corps for three years but were free to enroll in any other education and training programs.


In addition to private contractors that ran Job Corps on behalf of DOL, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior operate 30 Job Corps Centers (Civilian Conservation Centers) under an interagency agreement with DOL. Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers trained youth that meet Job Corps eligibility requirements on educational, social, and vocational skills, while helping conserve the nation’s public natural resources. Members of the Job Corps evaluation’s comparison group could not receive services from the Civilian Conservation Centers.


Generally, Job Corps staff consisted of a team of outreach and admissions counselors that recruited, screened, and assigned eligible youth to each Job Corps Center. Job Corps Center staff ran each center as well as the educational and residential life program components. Instructors from national labor and business organizations conducted the vocational training component. Finally, job placement specialists from contracted organizations conducted the post-program job placement component. The study authors did not include information on the number of staff or their training, degrees, or certifications.

Local context

Job Corps was implemented at 105 residential Job Corps Centers across 9 regions within the contiguous United States and the District of Columbia. Job Corps Centers were unevenly distributed across the states within the regions; therefore, the local context for each location varied greatly, with some states having only one center that served an entire state and some states having none at all. All Job Corps training, education, health, and job placement services were provided in these residential settings, though some participants continued to live at home while receiving services.

Fidelity measures

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

Funding source

Job Corps is been funded by congressional appropriations to DOL, which oversees the program and the contractors providing program services.

Cost information

The Job Corps program cost per participant was $14,898, in 1995 dollars; this figure was derived from the costs incurred by the residential and nonresidential study sample participants. The study authors defined the benefits of the program in three broad categories: increased economic output (employment and earnings), reduced use of other programs and services, and reduced criminal activity by and against Job Corps participants. Overall, the study found that during the 20-year observation period, program costs were greater than program benefits for all participants in the Job Corps study. However, the study found that the program was cost-effective for older participants (ages 20 to 24).

Studies of this intervention

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