Employment and Training Programs

155 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2015 Last revised: 7 Sep 2022

See all articles by Burton S. Barnow

Burton S. Barnow

George Washington University - Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration

Jeffrey A. Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Date Written: October 2015


This chapter considers means-tested employment and training programs in the United States. We focus in particular on large, means-tested federal programs, including the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA), its successor the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), that program’s recent replacement, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the long-running Job Corps program, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The first part of the chapter provides details on program history, organization, expenditures, eligibility rules, services, and participant characteristics. In the second part of the chapter, we discuss the applied econometric methods typically used to evaluate these programs, which in the United States means primarily social experiments and methods such as matching that rely on an assumption of “selection on observed variables.” The third part of the chapter reviews the literature evaluating these programs, highlighting both methodological and substantive lessons learned as well as open questions. The fourth part of the chapter considers what lessons the evaluation literature provides on program operation, especially how to best allocate particular services to particular participants. The final section concludes with the big picture lessons from this literature and discussion of promising directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

Barnow, Burton S. and Smith, Jeffrey Andrew, Employment and Training Programs (October 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21659, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2679697

Burton S. Barnow (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration ( email )

805 21st Street, NW
Suite 601
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Jeffrey Andrew Smith

University of Wisconsin - Madison

716 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-1481
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics