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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: Zaslow, Martha; Eldred, Carolyn
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 1998

    The New Chance Observational Study — the subject of this monograph — is an in-depth examination of parenting behavior in 290 of the 2,322 families studied in the New Chance Demonstration, a national research and demonstration program operated between 1989 and 1992 at 16 locations in 10 states. The demonstration tested a program model intended to improve the economic prospects and overall well-being of low-income young mothers (aged 16 to 22) and their children through a comprehensive and intensive set of services. It was developed by MDRC and supported by a broad consortium of public and private funders.

    New Chance was directed at families central to the welfare reform debates that culminated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 — families headed by young mothers who gave birth during their teenage years and were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, the main cash welfare program). More specifically, New Chance focused on those who were especially disadvantaged because they were high school dropouts; as a group,...

    The New Chance Observational Study — the subject of this monograph — is an in-depth examination of parenting behavior in 290 of the 2,322 families studied in the New Chance Demonstration, a national research and demonstration program operated between 1989 and 1992 at 16 locations in 10 states. The demonstration tested a program model intended to improve the economic prospects and overall well-being of low-income young mothers (aged 16 to 22) and their children through a comprehensive and intensive set of services. It was developed by MDRC and supported by a broad consortium of public and private funders.

    New Chance was directed at families central to the welfare reform debates that culminated in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 — families headed by young mothers who gave birth during their teenage years and were receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC, the main cash welfare program). More specifically, New Chance focused on those who were especially disadvantaged because they were high school dropouts; as a group, they and their children are at high risk of long-term welfare receipt and economic hardship.

    The New Chance Program sought to help the young mothers (who, for the most part, volunteered for the program) to acquire educational and vocational credentials and skills so that they could find and keep jobs offering opportunities for advancement and reduce, and eventually eliminate, their use of welfare. It also sought to motivate and assist participants to postpone additional childbearing and to become better parents. Because New Chance focused on young children as well as their mothers, it sought to further the cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as the health of participants’ children. Child care was provided at no cost to the parents, on site in most places, and the program facilitated access to health services for both mothers and children. The program was intended to be intensive (four to five days a week for up to 18 months), though in practice attendance was of much shorter term and often irregular. (author abstract)

    Table of Contents

          Executive Summary/ Martha J Zaslow and Carolyn A. Eldred

    1. Introduction: The Context for the New Chance Observational Study/ Martha I Zaslow
    2. The Methodology of the New Chance Observational Study/ Donna R. Morrison, Carolyn A. Eldred, Martha I Zaslow, and M Robin Dion
    3. Participation in Program Components That Could Affect Parenting Behavior/ M Robin Dion, Martha I Zaslow, and Donna R. Morrison
    4. The Affective Quality of Mother-Child Interaction/ Nancy S. Weinfield, Byron Egeland, and John R. Ogawa
    5. Mother-Child Interactions Related to the Emergence of Literacy/ Jeanne De Temple and Catherine Snow
    6. Completing the Portrayal of Parenting Behavior with Interview-Based Measures/  Donna R. Morrison, Martha J. Zaslow, and M Robin Dion
    7. Integration: Looking Across the Differing Measures of Parenting/  Martha J. Zaslow, M Robin Dion, and Donna R. Morrison
    8. Parenting in a Broader Context: An Examination of the Multiple Influences on Child Outcomes/ the New Chance Observational Study Research Team
    9. Key Findings and Their Implications/ Martha J. Zaslow
    10. Expanding the Methodological Horizons of Child Development and Survey Research/  Carolyn A. Eldred
    11. Implementing Observational Research Within a Survey Context/ Carolyn A. Eldred
    12. Findings on the Administration of the Observational Session/ Carolyn A. Eldred
    13. An Assessment of the Data Collection Effort and Lessons for Future Research Efforts/ Carolyn A. Eldred
    14. Measurement Implications of the New Chance Observational Study/ Carolyn A. Eldred
  • Individual Author: Farrell, Mary ; Hamilton, Gayle ; Schwartz, Christine ; Storto, Laura
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    Michigan’s current welfare-to-work program evolved over the past decade from one that emphasized participation in education and training activities to one that focused on quick job entry as the route to financial independence for welfare recipients. In addition, it shifted many of the responsibilities previously performed by the welfare department to private and public organizations outside the welfare department and exempted fewer welfare recipients from participating in the program. The program that emerged became one of the keystones of Michigan’s overall welfare reform program, which was approved for implementation under the 1996 law.

    This report examines the welfare-to-work programs operated in two of Detroit’s welfare districts: Fullerton-Jeffries and Hamtramck. It describes Michigan Opportunity and Skills Training (MOST), an education-focused program that was in place in these two offices in 1992 at the start of the evaluation, and the transition to Work First, an employment-focused program emphasizing job search services that was implemented in October 1994 and is...

    Michigan’s current welfare-to-work program evolved over the past decade from one that emphasized participation in education and training activities to one that focused on quick job entry as the route to financial independence for welfare recipients. In addition, it shifted many of the responsibilities previously performed by the welfare department to private and public organizations outside the welfare department and exempted fewer welfare recipients from participating in the program. The program that emerged became one of the keystones of Michigan’s overall welfare reform program, which was approved for implementation under the 1996 law.

    This report examines the welfare-to-work programs operated in two of Detroit’s welfare districts: Fullerton-Jeffries and Hamtramck. It describes Michigan Opportunity and Skills Training (MOST), an education-focused program that was in place in these two offices in 1992 at the start of the evaluation, and the transition to Work First, an employment-focused program emphasizing job search services that was implemented in October 1994 and is one component of Michigan’s current welfare reform program. It follows for two years the welfare recipients who were assigned to MOST, almost one-quarter of whom were referred to the Work First program within the two-year period, and examines the types of services and messages that they received, the cost of both strategies, and the effects of the treatment received on welfare receipt, employment, and earnings. It follows an early group of individuals for three years.

    The Detroit welfare-to-work program is being evaluated as part of the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS Evaluation; formerly called the JOBS Evaluation), conducted by the MDRC under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with support from the U.S. Department of Education and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. NEWWS is a comprehensive study of 11 welfare-to-work programs in seven sites. Throughout this report, comparisons are made between the Detroit program and the other NEWWS programs. Two recently released reports provide a more comprehensive comparison among all programs, including results on children’s well-being, child care use while employed, supports provided to individuals who leave welfare for employment, and additional measures of self-sufficiency. A future report will examine five-year results for all programs and will compare program benefits with program costs.

     

    author abstract.

  • Individual Author: Freedman, Stephen
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2000

    This paper explores whether programs in the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) helped welfare recipients attain employment stability and earn more over time. These outcomes (defined in greater detail below) are important prerequisites for achieving long-term self-sufficiency and have served as goals of welfare-to-work programs past and present. The need for programs to promote stable employment and earnings growth has grown stronger since passage of PRWORA, which imposes time limits on most families’ eligibility to receive federally funded welfare benefits. Further, as welfare caseloads continue to fall, administrators and policy makers face the greater challenge of achieving these goals when working with recipients with more serious barriers to employment and at greatest risk of exhausting their eligibility to receive benefits.

    To meet the challenges of welfare reform, state and local administrators and policy makers require solid information on the types of welfare-to-work programs that help people maintain steady employment over several years and...

    This paper explores whether programs in the National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies (NEWWS) helped welfare recipients attain employment stability and earn more over time. These outcomes (defined in greater detail below) are important prerequisites for achieving long-term self-sufficiency and have served as goals of welfare-to-work programs past and present. The need for programs to promote stable employment and earnings growth has grown stronger since passage of PRWORA, which imposes time limits on most families’ eligibility to receive federally funded welfare benefits. Further, as welfare caseloads continue to fall, administrators and policy makers face the greater challenge of achieving these goals when working with recipients with more serious barriers to employment and at greatest risk of exhausting their eligibility to receive benefits.

    To meet the challenges of welfare reform, state and local administrators and policy makers require solid information on the types of welfare-to-work programs that help people maintain steady employment over several years and earn more over time. This paper helps address this need by describing useful ways of measuring employment stability and earnings growth and by analyzing the effects of ten welfare-to-work programs on these measures over a four-year followup period. The paper also describes ways of measuring unstable or sporadic employment and estimates program effects on these measures. Welfare recipients who work sporadically may benefit from additional pre- or post-employment services or financial incentives provided by welfare agencies. Results are presented for ten programs operated in six sites: Atlanta, Georgia; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; and Riverside, California. Welfare recipients who enrolled in these programs were required to participate in employment-related activities and could incur financial sanctions (reductions in welfare benefits) for noncompliance.

    Four programs (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside Labor Force Attachment and Portland) were employment-focused. They encouraged rapid entry into the labor market in the hope that enrollees would work their way up to better jobs. The three Labor Force Attachment (or LFA) programs advocated work most strongly among the 10 programs. LFA program staff assigned nearly all enrollees to job clubs as their first activity and stressed the value of working even at low-wage jobs as a first step toward self-sufficiency. Portland’s program, in contrast, encouraged enrollees to look for jobs that paid above minimum wage and offered potential for advancement. In addition, Portland’s case managers had more discretion to assign some enrollees to skill-building activities as their first activity, although these activities were short-term and aimed at increasing employability. Program administrators in Portland hoped that these features would improve targeting of services: enrollees who would benefit from job search would go to job search; enrollees who would benefit from basic education would go to basic education. 

    The other six programs (Atlanta, Grand Rapids, and Riverside Human Capital Development, Columbus Integrated and Traditional, and Detroit) were education-focused. These programs sought to increase enrollees’ skills and credentials before they looked for work. Over time, welfare recipients in the education-focused programs were expected to make up for forgone earnings by obtaining more jobs or higher-quality jobs than they could have obtained on their own. 

    As discussed in previous reports and papers, the NEWWS Evaluation uses a rigorous experimental design based on random assignment to estimate program effects. The paper compares the employment experiences of program group members to those of control group members, who were precluded from these programs’ employment-related services and were not subject to the programs’ mandatory participation requirements.

    The paper discusses program control group differences, or impacts, on several indicators of employment stability and earnings growth. The paper also considers whether employment- or education-focused programs produced positive effects for sample members who entered the program with one or more serious barriers to employment, as well as for more job-ready sample members. 

    It is important to keep in mind that any effects on employment stability and earnings growth were produced solely from programs’ pre-employment services, messages, and mandates. In contrast to many programs that operate today, programs in NEWWS did not impose time limits on welfare eligibility and did not offer post-employment services to sample members who found jobs.

    The difference is especially pronounced in Riverside and Portland. Currently, the welfare departments in these sites provide case management services and arrange for vocational training for welfare recipients who find jobs. Nonetheless, the results for NEWWS remain important. The mandatory character of the programs in NEWWS and their pre-employment services and messages are similar to those operated today. Furthermore, to the extent that these programs did make a difference (especially for welfare recipients facing serious barriers to employment), the need for additional pre- or post-employment services or financial incentives will be that much smaller. (author abstract)

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