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

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  • David H. Autor
  • Susan N. Houseman

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. (JEL J22, J23, J24, J31, J68)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (July)
Pages: 96-128

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:96-128

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.2.3.96
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  1. David H. Autor, 2000. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," NBER Working Papers 7637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Papers 862, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  3. Michael Gerfin & Michael Lechner & Heidi Steiger, 2002. "Does subsidised temporary employment get the unemployed back to work? An econometric analysis of two different schemes," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-22, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
  4. Susan N. Houseman, 2001. "Why employers use flexible staffing arrangements: Evidence from an establishment survey," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(1), pages 149-170, October.
  5. Lewis Segal & Daniel Sullivan, 1996. "The growth of temporary services work," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues WP-96-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  6. Julia Lane & Kelly S. Mikelson & Pat Sharkey & Doug Wissoker, 2003. "Pathways to work for low-income workers: The effect of work in the temporary help industry," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(4), pages 581-598.
  7. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2005. "Experimental Analysis Of Neighborhood Effects On Youth," Working Papers 249, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  8. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Andersson Joona, Pernilla & Wadensjö, Eskil, 2004. "Temporary Employment Agencies: A Route for Immigrants to Enter the Labour Market?," IZA Discussion Papers 1090, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. O Blanchard & A Landier, 2002. "The Perverse Effects of Partial Labour Market Reform: fixed--Term Contracts in France," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F214-F244, June.
  11. Zijl, Marloes & van den Berg, Gerard J & Heyma, Arjan, 2004. "Stepping-stones for the unemployed: The effect of temporary jobs on the duration until regular work," Working Paper Series 2004:19, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  12. Andrea Ichino & Fabrizia Mealli & Tommaso Nannicini, 2005. "Temporary Work Agencies in Italy: A Springboard Toward Permanent Employment?," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 64(1), pages 1-27, September.
  13. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
  14. Neugart, Michael & Storrie, Donald, 2002. "Temporary work agencies and equilibrium unemployment," Working Papers in Economics 83, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  15. Michael Kvasnicka, 2005. "Does Temporary Agency Work Provide a Stepping Stone to Regular Employment?," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2005-031, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  16. Abadie, Alberto, 2003. "Semiparametric instrumental variable estimation of treatment response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 113(2), pages 231-263, April.
  17. Booth, Alison L. & Francesconi, Marco & Frank, Jeff, 2000. "Temporary Jobs: Stepping Stones or Dead Ends?," IZA Discussion Papers 205, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  18. David H. Autor, 2003. "Outsourcing at Will: The Contribution of Unjust Dismissal Doctrine to the Growth of Employment Outsourcing," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 1-42, January.
  19. Katharine G. Abraham, 1988. "Flexible Staffing Arrangements and Employers' Short-Term Adjustment Strategies," NBER Working Papers 2617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Susan N. Houseman, . "Why Employers Use Flexible Staffing Arrangements: Evidence from an Establishment Survey," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles snh2001, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  21. Susan N. Houseman & Arne L. Kalleberg & George A. Erickcek, 2001. "The Role of Temporary Help Employment in Tight Labor Markets," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 01-73, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  22. Lawrence Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & B. Jeffrey Liebman & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2004. "Moving to Opportunity and Tranquility: Neighborhood Effects on Adult Economic Self-Sufficiency and Health From a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Working Papers 860, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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