A Comparison of Two Job Club Strategies: The Effects of Enhanced Versus Traditional Job Clubs in Los Angeles

Published: August 15, 2008
Self-Sufficiency, Welfare & Employment
Employment Retention and Advancement Project (ERA), 1998-2011 | Learn more about this project

Although much is known about how to help welfare applicants and recipients find jobs, little is known about how best to help them keep jobs or advance in the labor market. This report presents interim results from an evaluation in Los Angeles County that is comparing two different strategies for placing such individuals into jobs. One strategy, the Enhanced Job Club (EJC) model, seeks to place individuals in jobs that are in line with their careers of interest, under the theory that this might result in greater job retention and advancement. The other strategy, the Traditional Job Club (TJC) model, seeks to place individuals quickly in any type of job, under the theory that any job provides good training in work skills and may lead to better job opportunities. The evaluation is part of the Employment Retention and Advancement (ERA) project, which was conceived by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ERA project is being conducted by MDRC under contract to ACF, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Labor.

From June 2002 through December 2004, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services and the Los Angeles County Office of Education jointly ran these two types of job club workshop models for unemployed Temporary Assistance for Needy Families applicants and recipients who were in the Greater Avenues for Independence (GAIN) program. The EJC model focused on career development activities and targeted job searches during a five-week period, while the TJC model focused on quick job entry during a three-week period. Notably, as part of a late-1990s evaluation in Los Angeles, the TJC model had been found to be successful in increasing individuals’ employment earnings when compared with providing them with no mandatory welfare-to-work services. The EJC model thus was an attempt to see whether further improvement was possible — specifically, whether a different type of job club could help individuals find jobs that they could retain and use as a basis for advancement.

The study used a random assignment research design: GAIN-mandatory individuals in two regions of the county were assigned, through a lottery-like process, to the EJC group and immediately scheduled for EJC workshops or to the TJC group and immediately scheduled for TJC workshops.