Program

Jun 07, 2013

OVERVIEW

Job Corps is an education and training program designed to help disadvantaged youth between 16 and 24 to become “more responsible, employable and productive citizens.” Program components include academic education, health education, health care, vocational training, job placement, and counseling services; additionally, a subset of youth participate in a dormitory-style residential living component. A long-term experimental evaluation of Job Corps found several positive impacts on participants, including:  reduced arrest and conviction rates; reduced reliance on public assistance; higher paying jobs; higher levels of employment; and increased levels of educational attainment and job training. The impact of the program on earnings fades after four years, except among young adults. Job Corps has not been found to impact birth rates, college attendance, or substance use. A cost-benefit analysis found that the costs of Job Corps were greater than the value of the benefits.

DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM

Target population: Disadvantaged youths and young adults aged 16 to 24

Job Corps is an education and training program that provides academic education, vocational training, residential living, health care services, counseling, and job placement assistance to participants. To be eligible for Job Corps, applicants have to satisfy 11 criteria, including being between 16 and 24 years of age, being a legal U.S. resident, being economically disadvantaged, being free of serious behavioral problems, needing additional training or education, having a clean health history, and having an adequate child care plan.

The Department of Labor (DOL) administers the Job Corps program through a national office and six regional offices (as of 2006). Services are delivered by Job Corps Centers, which are operated by private contractors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, or the U.S. Department of the Interior. The majority of participants live at the Job Corps center while in the program. There is no set duration of the program, but participants typically enroll for eight months on average.

Academic education is provided through centers that are run by private contractors of the Department of Agriculture. Educational services include remedial education, driver educations, GED courses, and home and family living. Vocational training services are provided through centers or through national labor organizations. These services include training in the business and clerical, health, construction, culinary arts, and building/apartment maintenance fields. Some sites offer residential living facilities that include meals, entertainment, sports and recreation, and social skills training. Health care and health education offered through Job Corps includes medical and dental exams and treatment as well as instruction on basic hygiene and self care. Job Corps includes counseling services to help program participants plan their educational and vocational activities and offer support and motivation. Placement contractors such as state employment offices, private contractors, or Job Corps centers offer job placement assistance including interviewing and resume writing services. These contractors also distribute the stipend that students receive after leaving the program, called a readjustment allowance.

As of 2006, Job Corps was being delivered at 120 centers nationwide and serving more than 60,000 new enrollees annually.

Cost effectiveness analysis using adjusted survey data on earnings suggest that the program cost is greater than the benefit by $10,200 per participant.

EVALUATION(S) OF PROGRAM

Study 1:  Schochet, P. (1998). National Job Corps Study: Characteristics of Youths Served by Job Corps. Princeton, NJ:  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Schochet, P., Brughardt, J., & Glazerman, S. (2000). National Job Corps Study: The short-term impacts of Job Corps on participants’ employment and related outcomes. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

Evaluated population: This evaluation includes 11,787 youth who completed the study’s 30-month follow-up interview. At baseline, this sample was 60 percent male, more than 70 percent racial or ethnic minorities (50 percent African American), and most had dropped out of high school (80 percent). Half of the sample lived in single-parent households at age 14. Eighty percent of the sample had work experience, typically in low wage jobs (an average wage of $5 an hour).

Approach:  The National Job Corps study was funded by the Department of Labor (DOL). From 1994 to 1996, a nationally representative sample of youth who were eligible for Job Corps were randomly assigned to either enroll in the Job Corps program or to be part of a control group who could not enroll in Job Corps, or were assigned to a nonexperimental group. A total of 5,977 eligible applicants were assigned to the control group and 9,409 were invited to enroll in Job Corps (the program group). Participants in the program group were offered the full range of Job Corps services available in their area. Control group participants could not enroll in Job Corps for three years, but were free to enroll in other education and training programs.

Study participants completed interviews shortly after random assignment and at 12, 30, and 48 months after random assignment. Outcomes that were measured by the study include education and training, employment and earnings, and nonlabor market outcomes such as welfare use, crime, alcohol and drug use, health, family formation, and mobility.

Results:  Nearly 73 percent of youth assigned to the program group enrolled in Job Corps by the time of the 30-month follow up. Program group members participated in Job Corps for eight months, on average. Nearly 25 percent enrolled for over a year.

Education and training:  Program group members were more likely to be enrolled in an education or training program, although more than 64 percent of the control group participated in some kind of education or training program such as a GED program, high school, or vocational school. Program group members spent more weeks and more hours per week in education and training compared with control group members. Program group members were more likely to receive a GED and more likely to receive a vocational certificate than control group members. Participation in Job Corps did not improve college attendance and had negative impacts on receiving a high school diploma for those enrolled in school at the time of random assignment. Only program group youths over age 17 spent more hours in academic classes than those in the control group, which could be because nearly half of the control group were 16 and 17 and attended high school. Impacts on education and training declined as participants started leaving the program.

Among 16- and 17-year olds, the percentage of program group members earning a high school diploma or GED increased by 80 percent

Employment and earnings: While most program group members were still enrolled in the Job Corps program, the earnings of control group members were higher than those of the program group. By the 30-month follow-up period, average weekly earnings of program group members were $13 more than the control group ($181 vs. $168). The program provided greater earnings gains for younger students, female participants with children, and 20- to 24-year-olds who did not have a high school diploma or GED at enrollment.

Compared with the control group, the program group had a slightly higher employment rate and spent slightly more time working per week. Program group members secured higher-paying jobs (wages of $7.07 vs. $6.82 on average) with slightly more benefits in their most recent job in months 28 to 30. The occupational areas that participants worked in did not vary significantly between the two groups.

Non-labor-market outcomes:  Program group members were less likely than control group members to have been arrested (23.3 percent compared with 27.7 percent). For participants ages 16 and 17, arrest rates were reduced by 14 percent, and rates of incarceration for a conviction by 26 percent. The arrest rate reductions among this group were largest in the early follow-up period (about 40 percent), before they started leaving the program. Impacts on arrest rates were more sustained for older applicants.

Compared with the control group, the program group reported receiving about $300 less in public benefits and spent slightly less time enrolled in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps). The program group was less likely to report their health as poor or fair than the control group. The program did not significantly impact use of alcohol and illegal drugs or drug treatment services, living with a partner, having a child, or the likelihood of living with or providing support for a child.

Study 2:  Schochet, P., Brughardt, J., & Glazerman, S. (2001). National Job Corps Study: The impacts of Job Corps on participants’ employment and related outcomes. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

 Schochet, P. Z., Burghardt, J., & McConnell, S. (2006). National Job Corps Study and Longer-Term Follow-Up Study: Impact and Benefit-Cost Findings Using Survey and Summary Earnings Records Data. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Evaluated population: This evaluation includes 11,313 youth from Study 1 who completed the 48-month interviews (6,828 program group members and 4,485 control group members).

Approach:  See Study 1 for a description of study methods. This evaluation describes the outcomes among study participants who completed interviews at 48 months after random assignment.

Results:

Education and training:  Compared with the control group, program group members were more likely to receive a GED (42 percent vs. 27 percent) or vocational certificate (37 percent vs. 15 percent) and to spend more hours in vocational training (3.1 hours per week vs. to 0.9 hour). Participation had negative impacts on receiving a high school diploma for those without credentials at the time they were assigned to the program:  7.5 percent of control group members received diplomas compared with 5.3 percent of program group members. Job Corps provided participants with the instructional equivalent of one additional year in school.

Participation in Job Corps did not improve college attendance or completion. About 12 percent of each group (program and control) attended 2-year colleges, and about three percent attended 4-year colleges. Less than two percent of either group obtained college degrees.

Impacts on education and training were large across all subgroups. Older youth spent more hours in academic classes, and program participants in all age groups spent more hours in vocational training. There were no differences between the two groups in hours spent in academic classes for 16- and 17-year-olds because nearly half of all control group members in that age range attended academic classes in high school.

The Job Corps program group experienced greater improvement in average scores on an assessment of functional literacy than the control group.

Employment and earnings:  The program increased average weekly earnings after two years post-random assignment, an impact that continued through the four year follow up. In year 4, the average weekly earnings for all program group members were $16 higher than those of the control group participants.

Beginning in year 4 program group members were more likely than control group members to be employed and spent more time employed. By the end of the 48 month follow up, 69 percent of the program group was employed, compared with 66 percent of the control group. Program group members worked 27.4 hours per week, compared with 26 hours per week for control group members.

Program group members secured higher paying jobs ($7.55 per hour compared with $7.33, on average) and employed program group members were more likely to receive benefits. By the 48 month follow up, 57 percent of employed program group members received health insurance, compared with 54 percent of employed control group members.

Most subgroups experienced gains in employment and earnings, including those at special risk of poor outcomes (very young students, mothers, youths who had been arrested for nonserious offenses, and older youths who did not possess a high school diploma or GED at the time of enrollment) as well as those at lower risk (that is, those with a high school credential at the time of assignment to the program). Women with children at the time of random assignment, who were mostly nonresidential students, saw positive earnings growth (more than 20 percent) at year 4. Earnings gains were similar for male and female participants.

The program had no impact on employment and earnings for Hispanic youths and for 18- and 19-year olds. Researchers have not been able to explain these findings, although the following factors have been ruled out through analysis:  differences in enrollment rates or length of time in the program, personal or family characteristics associated with low impacts, and a language barrier.
Receipt of public assistance:  Over all four years, program participants reported receiving $460 less in public assistance benefits, on average, than control group members. Young men had reductions in benefits throughout the follow-up period. For mothers, reductions were small while they were in the program but larger during the follow-up periods, as their earnings rose. For young women without children, reductions were greatest just after the program ended, but they declined to nearly zero later on.

Involvement in the criminal justice system:  Overall, participation in Job Corps reduced arrest rates, conviction rates, and time spent in jail. Over the 48-month follow-up, 33 percent of the control group was arrested compared with 29 percent of the program group. Program group members and participants had lower conviction rates and were less likely to have served time in jail after being convicted of a crime than control group members: 22 percent of program group members were convicted compared with 25 percent of control group members, and 16 percent of program group members served time in jail for convictions, compared with 18 percent of control group members. However, there was no difference between the two groups in the average number of weeks in jail for convictions.
Substance use:  The program had no impact on tobacco, alcohol, or illegal drug use or on time spent in drug treatment.

Health status:  Program group participants were less likely than control group members to report their health status as “poor” or “fair”: roughly 15.5 percent vs. 17.5 percent, respectively

Family formation and child care:  The program had no impact on fertility or custodial responsibility (39 percent of program group members and 37.8 percent of the control group had children 48 months after random assignment). Custodial responsibility, which was measured only for young men, did not differ between the program and control groups. Custodial responsibility measures include living with the child, spending time with the child, providing any type of nonmonetary support, and providing monetary support.

Program group members were slightly less likely than control group members to live with their parents 48 months after random assignment (31.8 percent vs. 34.7 percent). Program group members were also more likely to be married or living with a partner than control group members (31 percent vs. 29.4 percent).

Participants used an average of about 146 hours of child care while working or attending education and training programs over the 48-month follow-up period. Participants were more likely than their control group counterparts to use child care during the first year after random assignment (while still enrolled in the program) and during the fourth year (when employment gains were largest). In the first year, 17.3 percent of the program group and 15.1 percent of the control group reported using child care; in the fourth year, 35.2 percent of the program group and 33.3 percent of the control group reported using child care. Subgroup analyses found impacts for females but not for males (only a small percentage of fathers were living with their children).

Mobility:  There were no statistically significant differences on measures of mobility (such as difference in miles between zip code at application and at 48-month interview) between program group members and the control group. Also, there were no significant differences in the characteristics of the counties that control group and program group members lived in at the 48-month follow-up.

Residential and nonresidential subgroups:  The residential and non-residential Job Corps programs serve different types of students, but each is effective for its target group. Earnings and employment impacts during the last two years were generally positive for those assigned to both the residential and non-residential groups (except for young women without children in the nonresidential group). Note:  authors did not compare residential and nonresidential programs, since they serve different types of students.

Study 3:  Schochet, P. Z., McConnell, S., & Burghardt, J. (2003). National Job Corps Study: Findings using administrative earnings records data. Princeton, NJ: Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Evaluated Population:  The sample consisted of 15,138 youth and young adults who participated in the National Job Corps Study described in Study 1.

Approach: This study compared the survey data reported by participants at baseline and at 12, 30, and 48 months with administrative data collected from annual social security earnings (SER) reported by employers to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) and from quarterly wage records reported by employers to state unemployment insurance agencies (UI). The study also used administrative data to evaluate outcomes of participants after the 48-month survey follow up and update the cost-benefit calculations from earlier evaluation reports.

Results:  Analysis comparing the survey data and administrative data showed similar earning patterns, with a significant negative program impact in the first year of enrollment (1995 – 1996), and a significant positive impact in the following two years (1997 – 1998), compared with the control group. However, the survey data estimates of impact on earnings levels were greater and more frequently significant. The authors offer several possible explanations for the discrepancy between earnings levels in the two data sources:  (1) informal jobs are not covered by the administrative datasets, (2) there could be recall error on the part of survey respondents may have resulted in over-reporting of earnings, (3) employers could have misreported participants’ earnings, or (4) there could be inaccuracies in the reporting of earnings due to incorrect or missing Social Security Numbers.

Annual employment rates were similar between the survey and administrative data, but the survey reports of quarterly employment showed higher rates of employment than the corresponding administrative data.

Based on the administrative data, no differences in earnings or employment were seen between the program and control groups after the four year follow-up period ended, except among the participants who were 20- to 24-years-old at random assignment.

Cost-benefit analysis using adjusted survey data revealed that costs exceed benefits by $10,200 per participant. Among participants aged 20 to 24 at baseline, the authors estimated that costs exceeded benefits by $500. The authors point out that there are important benefits of the program to participants that were not measured in this cost-benefit analysis.

SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

References:

Schochet, P. (1998). National Job Corps Study: Characteristics of Youths Served by Job Corps. Princeton, NJ:  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Schochet, P., Brughardt, J., & Glazerman, S. (2000). National Job Corps Study: The short-term impacts of Job Corps on participants’ employment and related outcomes. Washington, DC:  U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.

Schochet, P., Brughardt, J., & Glazerman, S. (2001). National Job Corps Study: The impacts of Job Corps on participants’ employment and related outcomes. Princeton, NJ:  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Schochet, P. Z., Burghardt, J., & McConnell, S. (2006). National Job Corps Study and Longer-Term Follow-Up Study: Impact and Benefit-Cost Findings Using Survey and Summary Earnings Records Data. Princeton, NJ:  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Schochet, P. Z., McConnell, S., & Burghardt, J. (2003). National Job Corps Study: Findings using administrative earnings records data. Princeton, NJ:  Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Websites:
http://jobcorps.dol.gov/
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/labor/jobcorps.asp

KEYWORDS:  High School, College, Youth, Young Adults, Males and Females (Co-ed), Multiracial, Urban, Community-based, Cost information is available, Tutoring, Vocational Learning, Child Care, Case Management, Skills Training, Service Learning, Reading/Literacy, College Enrollment/Preparation, High School Completion/Dropout, Employment/Earnings, Job Training/Readiness, Public Assistance, Self Sufficiency – Other, Tobacco, Alcohol, Marijuana/Illicit/Prescription Drugs, Delinquency, Births, Health Status/Conditions, Behavioral Problems – Other

Program information last updated 6/7/13.

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