Research-To-Practice Brief

Using In-State Employment Data to Evaluate Workforce Programs

Evaluations of employment and training programs often use state unemployment insurance (UI) wage records to measure effects on participants’ employment and earnings. However, UI wage records have some constraints, including:

  • Missing earnings from certain types of work, such as self-employment, informal “off-the-books” jobs, and employment with the federal government; and
  • Not capturing out-of-state work. This MDRC brief examines the implications of relying only on in-state UI wage records to evaluate programs that are designed to increase employment and earnings.

This brief builds on the work of National Evaluation of Welfare-to-Work Strategies, an assessment of a series of programs that were implemented and evaluated in the 1990s, by presenting differences between the National and Oregon-only data sets in employment rate impacts annually through Year 20. It also presents year-by-year differences in earnings impacts, comparing Oregon-only earnings data with data from a broader group of states.

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