This report describes the implementation and impact study findings from an evaluation of the relative effectiveness of two approaches to providing job search assistance (JSA) to cash assistance recipients in Sacramento County, California. From 2016 to 2018, the Sacramento County’s Department of Human Assistance operated two JSA programs for cash assistance recipients who were required to work: Standard Job Club and Fast Track Job Club.
While cash assistance recipients in both programs were generally expected to participate in job search activities or search for work for 35 hours per week, recipients in the Standard Job Club participated in three weeks of instruction on job search and soft skills in a group setting followed by five weeks of daily on-site supervised job search. In contrast, in the Fast Track Job Club program, recipients participated in three-and-a-half days of group job search assistance, followed by seven weeks of independent job search with weekly on-site meetings. Participation in both programs was required, and recipients faced a sanction, in the form of a grant reduction, if they did not comply.
Using a rigorous research design, the study did not find a difference in employment rates, earnings, or the receipt of public assistance during the six month follow-up period. While participation in job search assistance services was high for both groups, compared to the Fast Track Job Club, those assigned to the Standard Job Club participated more frequently in group and one-on-one job search activities. In spite of the more rigorous participation requirement of the Standard Job Club, the sanction rates were the same for the two programs and it did not affect employment or public assistance outcomes. (Author abstract)