Using data from an experimental evaluation of Job Corps, this article examines earning potential and longer term program impacts on participants.
"This paper presents findings from an experimental evaluation of Job Corps, the nation’s largest training program for disadvantaged youths. The study uses survey data collected over four years and tax data over nine years on a nationwide sample of 15,400 treatments and controls. The Job Corps model has promise; program participation increases educational attainment, reduces criminalactivity, and increases earnings for several postprogram years. Based on tax data, however, the earnings gains were not sustained except for the oldest participants. Nonetheless, Job Corps is the only federal training program that has been shown to increase earnings for this population" (p. 1866). (Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

"The largest benefit of Job Corps is the value of the additional output that participants produce. Output initially decreased in the first year but then increased in the remaining three years of the follow-up period, as participants left the program. The impacts of Job Corps did not decline during the follow-up period. Job Corps teaches youths multiple skills. Participants in Job Corps engage not just in vocational training but also academic education and training in social and workplace skills. Job Corps improves literacy and numeracy skills. Our study found that Job Corps improved basic skills, which are less likely to become obsolete over time than more narrow job-specific training. The earnings impacts from participation in Job Corps in the fourth year of the follow-up period were similar to the returns to a year of school. Reduced use of other programs and services is a benefit to society of about $2,200. The benefits to society of reduced crime are about $1,200 per participant Government expenditures on Job Corps are about $16,500, about $2,400 more than program costs to society. These expenditures are offset by equal immediate benefits to Job Corps participants. Hence these expenditures are not costs to society. Job Corps is a good investment of society resources: benefits exceed costs. On average, society benefits from an increase in resources equivalent to about $17,000 for every youth it sends to Job Corps. Job Corps returns to society about $2 for every dollar spent on the program. Job Corps participants gain about $20,000 from their participation. This is mostly comprised of increased earnings and fringe benefits after leaving Job Corps, net of increased taxes and child care costs." (p. 27-29) (Abstractor: Author) Additional detail on findings can be found on p. 27-29