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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)

Suggested Citation

  • David H. Autor & Susan N. Houseman, 2010. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from "Work First"," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 96-128, July.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy

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