This Labor Day, Workforce System Strategies summarizes studies that may maximize employment opportunities for low-income individuals! These resources present findings from the Employment Strategies for Low-Income Adults Evidence Review (ESER). The first, provides a synthesis of primary employment and training strategies for low-income adults, while the second estimates the impact of these strategies on labor outcomes. The last report focuses on the impact of financial incentives and sanctions.

Primary Employment and Training Strategies Used in the Interventions Reviewed by ESER. 2016. This report provides an overview of the main interventions and approaches from 247 rigorous employment and training studies published from 1990 to mid-2014 and reviewed by ESER, which is described as “a systematic review of the literature on the impacts of employment and training programs and policies for low-income people.” The authors map the employment and training interventions evaluated by these studies to nine primary service strategies: education, training, work-readiness activities, subsidized employment or transitional jobs, employment retention services, case management, financial incentives or sanctions, supportive services, and health services. Each study was also assigned a high, moderate, or low rating based on its rigor.

The Right Tool for the Job: A Meta-Regression of Employment Strategies’ Effects on Different Outcomes. 2017.  This report employs a rigorous quantitative approach to estimate overall impacts across 235 causal studies and identify the most effective approaches for improving employment and earnings outcomes among low-income adults. The authors use meta-regression to “identify not only those interventions that seem successful on the whole, but also those that are effective for particular labor market outcomes and for particular types of low-income workers.” The report finds that, “the individual strategies that appear most effective are financial incentives and sanctions, education, work experience, and training. Each has over a 90 percent chance of improving outcomes across population and outcome types.”

Financial Incentives and Sanctions: Can They Improve Employment Outcomes for Low-Income Adults?. 2016. This report summarizes interventions that use financial incentives and sanctions to improve employment outcomes of low-income adults, and provides suggestions for future research to more thoroughly understand the impact of these types of interventions. The authors find that, “Interventions that use incentives or sanctions as their primary strategy can improve employment outcomes for low-income single parents. However, not all interventions that targeted single parents were effective. Those that did improve employment outcomes were all implemented in the early 1990s and were compared to public assistance policies that no longer apply to low-income individuals and families.”