JOBS, which operated in Portland, Oregon in the mid to late 1990s, was a mandatory welfare-to-work program for single-parent welfare recipients whose children were over one year in age. The program’s main focus was on moving these welfare recipients quickly into the workforce.

Two central features of Portland JOBS that distinguish it from other welfare-to-work programs are: (i) the program placed participants deemed to be job-ready in structured job search services, and those with little work experience or education in short-term education/training to improve their employability; and (ii) staff encouraged participants to take high quality, stable jobs (i.e., jobs paying 25% or more above minimum wage, with benefits and potential for advancement), even if it meant turning down lower quality jobs.

Program: A mandatory welfare-to-work program focused on moving welfare applicants and recipients quickly into the workforce.

Evaluation Methods: A randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 4,028 single-parent welfare applicants or recipients in Portland, Oregon.

Key Findings: Sizable increase in employment rates and job earnings, reduction in welfare dependency, and savings to the government, at study follow-up five years after random assignment.

Other: A limitation of the evidence is that this study was conducted prior to the enactment of sweeping federal welfare reforms in 1996, and it is unknown whether the findings would generalize to present-day welfare settings.

Read the full article on the Portland JOBS Training Program at Social Programs That Work