This review of random assignment studies of welfare-related initiatives highlights strategies found effective in increasing employment and earnings among welfare recipients.
Following its review of welfare-related random assignment studies, this paper provides "an overview of recent employment patterns among TANF recipients, [and then] discusses effectiveness findings for three somewhat overlapping dimensions of strategies: program components, including job search, education, subsidized work, and sectoral training; financial incentives; and efforts to facilitate work retention and increase earnings (p. 2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

According to the study:" • Research shows a clear role for skills enhancement in welfare programs that encourage or mandate certain activities. But it also suggests balancing a focus on job seeking and work with goal-directed education and training. • Studies have suggested promising programmatic tools, regardless of a program’s emphasis: financial incentives to increase job retention and earnings as well as participation in and completion of education and training, experienced job placement intermediaries that can help welfare recipients find and move into better jobs, and high-quality sectoral training with strong employer ties for those who can qualify" (p. 1). The study also points to additional areas of consideration and considers the following proposals for improving employment and earnings for TANF recipients: “Combining into a single program several features already shown to be effective. Such a program might include financial incentives (to promote work as well as skill building), sector-focused training, and strong connections to employers in specific industry sectors” (p. 6). “Providing longer-term subsidized employment, combined with sector-focused skills training. Testing would indicate whether lengthened subsidized employment paired with skills training, perhaps also including financial incentives and strong employer connections, could better position individuals to transition into unsubsidized employment and to retain such employment longer” (p. 7). “Providing services to TANF recipients through different institutions. While difficult to mount, evaluations assessing service providers’ effectiveness —TANF agencies, workforce development agencies, community colleges, community-based organizations, for-profit groups, and others—could shed light on an operational issue of key importance to policymakers and program administrators” (p. 7). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)