Presents the impact of STEP Forward, a program designed to connect low-income job seekers in San Francisco to long-term employment, using a randomized controlled trial of 837 adults from November 2012 to March 2015.

“This report presents implementation findings and interim impact results (with a one-year follow-up) from a random assignment evaluation of STEP Forward. This research design…involves a lottery-like process that randomly places individuals into either a program group, which is offered the services being tested, or into a control group, which is not offered those services” (ES-1). “The implementation study describes the STEP Forward approach as it was designed and as it ultimately operated” (p.vi).

“STEP Forward [is] a voluntary program in San Francisco that aimed to connect low-income job seekers to the labor market with the goal of ultimately increasing permanent unsubsidized employment among this population….The program was operated by the Human Services Agency of San Francisco (HSA) under the umbrella of JOBsNOW!, HSA’s broader subsidized employment initiative. STEP Forward offered [job-ready] job seekers opportunities to interview for jobs with private sector employers at weekly job fairs, and offered employers temporary wage subsidies if they hired disadvantaged job seekers whom they might not otherwise hire. A diverse group of low-income job seekers enrolled in the program, the vast majority of whom were…Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program…clients, individuals who had exhausted their unemployment insurance…benefits, or…Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program…recipients” (ES-1).

“Case managers helped participants [who were not job ready] with their résumés and referred them to other services in the community….Once participants were deemed job ready, they could interview for jobs…” (p. 34).

“The study seeks to answer the following research questions:

         How was the program designed and operated?

         What are the impacts of the program on employment-related outcomes, income, and personal well-being, relative to what would have happened in the absence of the program?

         Does the program appear to be more effective for specific subgroups in the sample?

         To what extent do the program costs differ from the amounts expended on behalf of individuals randomly assigned to a control group that could not receive STEP Forward services? How does this cost differential relate to the benefits associated with program impacts, if any?” (p.v).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)



Major Findings & Recommendations

“Findings from the report include the following: •The program greatly increased receipt of employment services, which was unsurprising given that most of the program group received job-readiness services through STEP Forward, while control group members could receive such services only through other programs and services they found in the community. While over half of the control group reported receiving help with finding or keeping a job, likely through other programs and services they found in the community, nearly 94 percent of the program group received these services. These services included help with job searches, job referrals, developing a résumé, filling out job applications, and preparing for job interviews, among other activities” (p.v-vi). •“A little over a third of program group members never interviewed for a subsidized job, and among those who interviewed and were hired (25 percent), it took about three and a half months on average from the date of random assignment to the first day worked. While a high percentage (82 percent) of program group members received job-readiness services, a significant number of participants (36 percent) never had an interview with employers….The number of participants who were placed in a subsidized job and the length of time it took were influenced by a variety of factors, such as the competitive nature of interviewing for and getting a subsidized job, the types of jobs available, and the skills and interests of the participants. •In the first year after random assignment, program group members were more likely than control group members to have been employed, had higher average earnings, and may have been employed in higher-quality jobs….Nearly 70 percent of the control group worked in the year following random assignment according to administrative records. However, three-fourths of program group members were employed in the year following random assignment, resulting in an impact on employment of 5.6 percentage points. Program group members also worked in slightly more quarters and earned approximately $1,600 more (including the subsidy amount) than control group members, on average, in the year following random assignment. Impacts on employment and earnings rose and fell in line with participation in subsidized jobs. As subsidies ended, differences in the employment rates and earnings of the program and control groups narrowed” (p.vi). (Abstractor: Author)