Building Better Programs

Testing Two Subsidized Employment Approaches for Recipients of TANF: Implementation and Early Impacts of the Los Angeles County Transitional Subsidized Employment Program (OPRE)

The Los Angeles STED study compares two approaches to subsidized employment with a non-subsidized employment control group: (1) Paid Work Experience, which subsidized the wages of individuals placed at non-profit or public sector employers; and (2) On-the-Job Training, which offered wage subsidies to private sector employers. The program targeted TANF recipients who, following supervised job search, were unable to secure employment in the competitive labor market. This report covers early impacts (12 months after random assignment) and implementation of the TSE program.


Implementation Findings
• There was substantial variation in placement rates by program. Among On-the-Job Training (OJT) program group members, 42 percent were placed in a subsidized employment position; 80 percent of Paid Work Experience (PWE) participants were placed.
• The PWE and OJT groups also differed in terms of time to placement and duration of placements. Initial placement took longer for the OJT group compared to PWE – averages of 58.5 days and 46.8 days, respectively.
• PWE participants remained in their subsidized jobs for an average of 150 days; OJT participants stayed in their positions for an average of 106 days. Overall, 91 percent of PWE placements and 64 percent of OJT placements continued beyond the second month, the point at which OJT participants were to transition onto the employer’s payroll.
• Members of the control group were almost as likely as those in the program groups to receive some type of welfare-to-work services (other than subsidized employment). The control group was more likely than either of the program groups to be involved in education-related activities.

Impact Findings
• Overall, impacts on participation and service receipt beyond the subsidized job were modest, reflecting the continued services available to the control group through DPSS and other services available in the community.
• In the first year after random assignment, both PWE and OJT group members were more likely to work, worked more quarters on average, and had higher average earnings than control group members; these differences were larger among sample members that had not been employed in the year prior to random assignment and declined as people left subsidized jobs.
• In the year following random assignment, there were few differences in the rate of TANF receipt between the PWE, OJT, and control group members, but PWE and OJT group members had slightly lower total TANF amounts.
• Using data from the in-program survey (around five months after random assignment) when many people were still in subsidized jobs, both PWE and OJT group members were more likely than control group members to report being financially better off than they were one year prior. There were few other statistically significant differences in well-being between PWE, OJT, and control group members during this early follow-up period.
• Around one year after random assignment, there were few statistically significant differences in measures of well-being between program group members and control group members.