Job Opportunities and Basic Skills (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.

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Two central features of Portland JOBS that distinguish it from other welfare-to-work programs are:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

This program was evaluated in one randomized controlled trial of 4,028 single-parent welfare applicants or recipients whose children were over one year in age, and who had completed the initial mandatory job search described above. These applicants or recipients were randomly assigned, during 1993 and 1994, either to  a group required to participate in the JOBS program, or a control group that was not eligible for the program, but could participate in other services in the community.

Effects on the Portland JOBS group at the 5-year follow-up (versus the control group):

  • 25% higher annual job earnings per person over the five-year period ($5,208 in annual earnings for the Portland JOBS group vs. $4,178 for the control group).
  • 23% lower annual receipt of welfare payments per person over the five-year period ($1,788 vs. $2,337).
  • 21% more time employed per person over the five-year period (9.4 quarters employed vs. 7.8 quarters).
    11% lower annual receipt of food stamps per person over the five-year period ($1,385 vs. $1,551).
  • The sizeable effects on employment, earnings, and welfare receipt applied to both the less and the more disadvantaged subgroups in the full sample.
  • Large effect on receipt of a trade license or certificate (17% vs. 4%), and suggestive evidence of a sizeable effect on receipt of a high school diploma or GED (26% vs 17%).

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Read the source article at Social Programs That Work