Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from 'Work First'

MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 05-26

Upjohn Institute Staff Working Paper No. 05-124

45 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2005 Last revised: 17 Mar 2010

See all articles by David H. Autor

David H. Autor

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Susan N. Houseman

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 30, 2009

Abstract

Temporary-help jobs offer rapid entry into paid employment, but they are typically brief and it is unknown whether they foster longer-term employment. We utilize the unique structure of Detroit's welfare-to-work program to identify the effect of temporary-help jobs on labor market advancement. Exploiting the rotational assignment of welfare clients to numerous nonprofit contractors with differing job placement rates, we find that temporary-help job placements do not improve and may diminish subsequent earnings and employment outcomes among participants. In contrast, job placements with direct-hire employers substantially raise earnings and employment over a seven quarter follow-up period.

Keywords: Temporary-help, welfare to work, job placement, low-skill workers, causal effects

JEL Classification: J24, J48, J62

Suggested Citation

Autor, David H. and Houseman, Susan N., Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from 'Work First' (August 30, 2009). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 05-26; Upjohn Institute Staff Working Paper No. 05-124. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=830905 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.830905

David H. Autor (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Susan N. Houseman

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research ( email )

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616-343-5541 (Phone)
616-343-3308 (Fax)

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