This rapid evidence review summarizes relevant programs and potentially promising strategies from existing research on government policies and programs that help unemployed individuals return to work and engage in job search may be helpful in tackling joblessness in the COVID-19 context.

This resource identifies four types of strategies that workforce development professionals and their partners can utilize to help unemployed individuals, impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, engage in job search and return to work.

These strategies are organized into four subject areas:

  1. Reemployment Initiatives;
  2. Employment and Hiring Subsidies;
  3. Vocational Rehabilitation and Job Accommodations; and
  4. Strategies to Help Reopen Businesses.

This resource identifies specific approaches that have been successfully utilized to help workforce development practitioners and their partners actualize these strategies to benefit unemployed individuals.

(This report is 18 pages, including appendices.)

Major Findings & Recommendations

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following strategies can be effective for helping unemployed individuals return to work:

1. Reemployment Initiatives

  • Job search assistance programs have employment promoting effects.
  • Despite evidence of the effectiveness of job-search assistance, most disadvantaged job seekers need additional support.
  • Targeted and demand-led work-based training programs are effective in helping the unemployed find jobs.

2. Employment and Hiring Subsidies

  • Subsidized employment programs are effective in providing income support and skills to disadvantaged jobseekers who cannot find jobs, particularly in recessionary times.
  • Hiring subsidies and credits have job creation effects and can help speed up job recovery.
  • Level of targeting and program oversight can influence program effects.

3. Vocational Rehabilitation and Job Accommodations

  • Vocational rehabilitation and employment counseling services can be effective in decreasing unemployment rates among individuals with disabilities.
  • There is evidence on the effectiveness of job accommodations in shortening work absences after injury; similar accommodations might help individuals infected or at higher risk of infection with COVID-19 return safely to the workplace.

4. Strategies to Reopen Businesses

  • Keeping mobility within local labor markets while restricting it between them might alleviate negative economic consequences of the pandemic on local communities and help the creation and preservation of jobs.
  • Two-week cycles of lockdown strategy might suppress the spread of COVID-19, helping accelerate restart economic activity and the return to work.