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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Holzer, Harry J.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1996

    In this paper I use data from a recent survey of employers to investigate the effects of employer skill needs on the wage levels and employment of newly hired workers, and especially on how these outcomes differ by race and gender. The skill needs are measured by various human capital credentials required of applicants at the hiring stage (educational attainment, specific experience, prior training) and by the daily task performance of those who are newly hired (reading/writing, arithmetic, use of computers).

    The results show that few new jobs are available to those workers who lack most of these credentials or who cannot perform most of these tasks. This is true even of jobs that do not require applicants to have college degrees.

    The hiring and task performance requirements of new jobs are associated with lower employment levels of blacks relative to whites within each gender, and some tasks are associated with higher employment levels of females relative to males. These requirements also have significant effects on starting hourly wages. Both effects are found...

    In this paper I use data from a recent survey of employers to investigate the effects of employer skill needs on the wage levels and employment of newly hired workers, and especially on how these outcomes differ by race and gender. The skill needs are measured by various human capital credentials required of applicants at the hiring stage (educational attainment, specific experience, prior training) and by the daily task performance of those who are newly hired (reading/writing, arithmetic, use of computers).

    The results show that few new jobs are available to those workers who lack most of these credentials or who cannot perform most of these tasks. This is true even of jobs that do not require applicants to have college degrees.

    The hiring and task performance requirements of new jobs are associated with lower employment levels of blacks relative to whites within each gender, and some tasks are associated with higher employment levels of females relative to males. These requirements also have significant effects on starting hourly wages. Both effects are found even after controlling for the educational attainments of hired workers.

    The effects of employer skill needs on employment patterns and wages help to account for some of the observed differences across groups in hourly wages, especially between black and white males, after controlling for education. Recent trends over time in relative wages and employment across these groups also seem to be quite consistent with these findings, along with evidence that these skill needs have been rising among employers.

    In addition, I find that various other employer characteristics such as their size, location, and the racial composition of their clientele also have significant effects on their tendencies to hire blacks. These findings suggest that employer preferences across racial groups play some role in determining employment outcomes of these groups, even after controlling for skill needs. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Holzer, Harry
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 1996

    A very important contribution to the field of labor economics, and in particular to the understanding of the labor market for workers with relatively low skill levels. I think we have the sense that the market looks bad, but haven't been clear on how bad it is, or how it got that way. What Employers Want provides some of the answers and identifies the important questions. It is essential reading. —Jeffrey S. Zax, University of Colorado at Boulder

    The substantial deterioration in employment and earnings among the nation's less-educated workers, especially minorities and younger males in the nation's big cities, has been tentatively ascribed to a variety of causes: an increase in required job skills, the movement of companies from the cities to the suburbs, and a rising unwillingness to hire minority job seekers. What Employers Want is the first book to replace conjecture about today's job market with first-hand information gleaned from employers about who gets hired. Drawn from a survey of over 3,000 employers in four major metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta,...

    A very important contribution to the field of labor economics, and in particular to the understanding of the labor market for workers with relatively low skill levels. I think we have the sense that the market looks bad, but haven't been clear on how bad it is, or how it got that way. What Employers Want provides some of the answers and identifies the important questions. It is essential reading. —Jeffrey S. Zax, University of Colorado at Boulder

    The substantial deterioration in employment and earnings among the nation's less-educated workers, especially minorities and younger males in the nation's big cities, has been tentatively ascribed to a variety of causes: an increase in required job skills, the movement of companies from the cities to the suburbs, and a rising unwillingness to hire minority job seekers. What Employers Want is the first book to replace conjecture about today's job market with first-hand information gleaned from employers about who gets hired. Drawn from a survey of over 3,000 employers in four major metropolitan areas—Los Angeles, Boston, Atlanta, and Detroit—this volume provides a wealth of data on what jobs are available to the less-educated, in what industries, what skills they require, where they are located, what they pay, and how they are filled.

    The evidence points to a dramatic surge in suburban, white-collar jobs. The manufacturing industry—once a steady employer of blue-collar workers—has been eclipsed by the expanding retail trade and service industries, where the vast majority of jobs are in clerical, managerial, or sales positions. Since manufacturing establishments have been the most likely employers to move from the central cities to the suburbs, the shortage of jobs for low-skill urban workers is particularly acute. In the central cities, the problem is compounded and available jobs remain vacant because employers increasingly require greater cognitive and social skills as well as specific job-related experience. Holzer reveals the extent to which minorities are routinely excluded by employer recruitment and screening practices that rely heavily on testing, informal referrals, and stable work histories. The inaccessible location and discriminatory hiring patterns of suburban employers further limit the hiring of black males in particular, while earnings, especially for minority females, remain low.

    Proponents of welfare reform often assume that stricter work requirements and shorter eligibility periods will effectively channel welfare recipients toward steady employment and off federal subsidies. What Employers Want directly challenges this premise and demonstrates that only concerted efforts to close the gap between urban employers and inner city residents can produce healthy levels of employment in the nation's cities. Professor Holzer outlines the measures that will be necessary—targeted education and training programs, improved transportation and job placement, heightened enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, and aggressive job creation strategies. Repairing urban labor markets will not be easy. This book shows why. (author abstract) 

  • Individual Author: Moore, Kristin A.; Zaslow, Martha J.; Coiro, Mary Jo; Miller, Suzanne M.; Magenheim, Ellen B.
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1996

    The centerpiece of the 1988 Family Support Act (FSA) is the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) Program, which requires eligible recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to participate in educational, job training and work experience, or job search activities, in order to reduce welfare dependency and promote self-sufficiency. Although most services offered through JOBS are aimed at meeting the needs of adults, there are numerous reasons to expect that JOBS may also affect children in families that receive AFDC...

    The purposes of this report are to describe the lives and circumstances of this sample of AFDC families with preschool-aged children in Fulton County, Georgia and to inform policymakers about the mothers' goals and the development of their children. In addition, the study provides a context within which we will examine later impacts of the JOBS program on children. (author abstract)

    The centerpiece of the 1988 Family Support Act (FSA) is the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) Program, which requires eligible recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to participate in educational, job training and work experience, or job search activities, in order to reduce welfare dependency and promote self-sufficiency. Although most services offered through JOBS are aimed at meeting the needs of adults, there are numerous reasons to expect that JOBS may also affect children in families that receive AFDC...

    The purposes of this report are to describe the lives and circumstances of this sample of AFDC families with preschool-aged children in Fulton County, Georgia and to inform policymakers about the mothers' goals and the development of their children. In addition, the study provides a context within which we will examine later impacts of the JOBS program on children. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Hamilton, Gayle; Brock, Thomas; Farrell, Mary; Friedlander, Daniel; Harknett, Kristen; Hunter-Manns, JoAnna; Walter, Johanna; Weisman, Joanna
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1997

    Welfare reform has been near the top of the American political agenda for almost a decade, a reflection of persistent dissatisfaction with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. At the center of the reform discussion is the bedrock value of work. AFDC was created in 1935 primarily to ensure that women whose husbands had died or were disabled could care for their children without being compelled to go to work. By the end of the 1980s, however, most mothers were in the workforce, including mothers of young children, and the Depression-era commitment to helping mothers stay at home was considered obsolete. The key welfare reform question then became how best to move AFDC recipients into the workforce, toward self-sufficiency, and out of poverty — still an immensely important question.

    States have traditionally responded to this question by implementing one of two different welfare-to-work program strategies. The first, often referred to as the "labor force attachment" (LFA) strategy, emphasizes placing people into jobs...

    Welfare reform has been near the top of the American political agenda for almost a decade, a reflection of persistent dissatisfaction with the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program. At the center of the reform discussion is the bedrock value of work. AFDC was created in 1935 primarily to ensure that women whose husbands had died or were disabled could care for their children without being compelled to go to work. By the end of the 1980s, however, most mothers were in the workforce, including mothers of young children, and the Depression-era commitment to helping mothers stay at home was considered obsolete. The key welfare reform question then became how best to move AFDC recipients into the workforce, toward self-sufficiency, and out of poverty — still an immensely important question.

    States have traditionally responded to this question by implementing one of two different welfare-to-work program strategies. The first, often referred to as the "labor force attachment" (LFA) strategy, emphasizes placing people into jobs quickly, even at low wages, reflecting a view that the workplace is where welfare recipients can best build their work habits and skills. The second, often called the "human capital development" (HCD) strategy, emphasizes education and training as a precursor to employment, based on the belief that the required skill levels for many jobs are rising and that an investment in the "human capital" of welfare recipients will allow them to obtain better and more secure jobs. Although each strategy has elements of the other LFA programs include education and training components and HCD programs include job search components the two approaches both convey different messages to welfare recipients about the best route to self-sufficiency and emphasize different program components.

    This report examines the relative strengths and limitations of particular versions of the LFA and HCD program strategies. It includes the findings from one part of a multi-year, seven-site evaluation and draws on the advantages of a unique experimental design implemented in three of those seven sites. The evaluation had its origins in the Family Support Act (FSA) of 1988, which marked a major shift in the philosophy of welfare by establishing a system of mutual obligation — between government and recipients — within the AFDC entitlement structure. As part of the Job Opportunities and Basic Skills Training (JOBS) program created by the FSA, welfare recipients had to look for and accept a job or participate in employment-promoting activities such as education, vocational skills training, or temporary, unpaid work experience provided through the welfare department; if they refused, they risked losing part of their cash (and, in some cases, Food Stamps and Medicaid) benefits. In turn, government was to provide a wider array of services and supports to a broader share of the welfare population than it ever had before — all with the purpose of equipping welfare recipients for work. More recently, the emphasis of welfare reform has again shifted: Recipients have stronger obligations to meet, states have a commanding and more flexible role, and the receipt of federal benefits is now subject to a time limit. Work, however, is still key. But what is the best way to make sure that welfare recipients who can work actually find and keep jobs? Various responses to that question are currently shaping federal and state welfare reform initiatives, and this report takes a preliminary look at two of them — the LFA and HCD approaches described above. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Pugh, Margaret
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    The time limits and work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law present a great challenge to large U.S. metropolitan areas, where hundreds of thousands of low-income people must find entry-level jobs. The welfare-to-work effort underway in American cities uncovers a phenomenon that many scholars already knew: there is a “spatial mismatch” between where workers live and where jobs are located, and low-income workers often have no easy way to travel between home and work.

    Officials at the federal, state, and local levels already are scrambling to solve spatial mismatch through transportation solutions, yet they lack solid information about what spatial mismatch is, why it occurs, and how best to remedy it through transportation. A review of empirical literature and practical work shows that not all metropolitan areas experience the same degree of spatial mismatch, and that policy solutions may vary from city to city.

    This discussion paper does three things. First, it proposes an index by which we could assess the degree of spatial mismatch and categorize...

    The time limits and work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law present a great challenge to large U.S. metropolitan areas, where hundreds of thousands of low-income people must find entry-level jobs. The welfare-to-work effort underway in American cities uncovers a phenomenon that many scholars already knew: there is a “spatial mismatch” between where workers live and where jobs are located, and low-income workers often have no easy way to travel between home and work.

    Officials at the federal, state, and local levels already are scrambling to solve spatial mismatch through transportation solutions, yet they lack solid information about what spatial mismatch is, why it occurs, and how best to remedy it through transportation. A review of empirical literature and practical work shows that not all metropolitan areas experience the same degree of spatial mismatch, and that policy solutions may vary from city to city.

    This discussion paper does three things. First, it proposes an index by which we could assess the degree of spatial mismatch and categorize metropolitan areas according to the severity of mismatch. Second, it performs a preliminary categorization of five cities to illustrate the varying degrees of mismatch found among metropolitan areas with large welfare populations. Third, it makes both short and long term recommendations for federal and state policies. (author introduction)

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