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Government programs can improve local labor markets: Evidence from State Enterprise Zones, Federal Empowerment Zones and Federal Enterprise Community

  • Ham, John C.
  • Swenson, Charles
  • Imrohoroglu, Ayse
  • Song, Heonjae

Federal and state governments spend well over a billion dollars a year on programs that encourage employment development in disadvantaged labor markets through the use of subsidies and tax credits. In this paper we use an estimation approach that is valid under relatively weak assumptions to measure the impact of State Enterprise Zones (ENTZs), Federal Empowerment Zones (EMPZs), and Federal Enterprise Community (ENTC) programs on local labor markets. We find that all three programs have positive, statistically significant, impacts on local labor markets in terms of the unemployment rate, the poverty rate, the fraction with wage and salary income, and employment. Further, the effects of EMPZ and ENTC designation are considerably larger than the impact of ENTZ designation. We find that our estimates are robust to allowing for a regression to the mean effect. We also find that there are positive, but statistically insignificant, spillover effects to neighboring Census tracts of each of these programs. Thus our positive estimates of these program impacts do not simply represent a transfer from the nearest non-treated Census tract to the treated Census tract. Our results are noteworthy for several reasons. First, our study is the first to jointly look at these three programs, thus allowing policy makers to compare the impacts of these programs. Second, our paper, along with a concurrent study by Neumark and Kolko (2008), is the first to carry out the estimation accounting for overlap between the programs. Third, our estimation strategy is valid under weaker assumptions than those made in many previous studies; we consider three comparison groups and let the data determine the appropriate group. Fourth, in spite of our conservative estimation strategy, by looking at national effects with disaggregated data, we show that ENTZ designation generally has a positive effect on the local labor market, while most previous research on ENTZs, much of which used more geographically aggregated data to look at state-specific effects, did not find any significant impacts. Fifth, we note that there is little or no previous work on ENTCs. Overall, our results strongly support the efficacy of these labor market interventions.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 95 (2011)
Issue (Month): 7-8 (August)
Pages: 779-797

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:95:y:2011:i:7-8:p:779-797
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. Robert T. Greenbaum & John B. Engberg, 2004. "The impact of state enterprise zones on urban manufacturing establishments," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 23(2), pages 315-339.
  2. Bondonio, Daniele & Greenbaum, Robert T., 2007. "Do local tax incentives affect economic growth? What mean impacts miss in the analysis of enterprise zone policies," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 121-136, January.
  3. Boarnet, Marlon G. & Bogart, William T., 1996. "Enterprise Zones and Employment: Evidence from New Jersey," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 198-215, September.
  4. Papke, Leslie E., 1994. "Tax policy and urban development : Evidence from the Indiana enterprise zone program," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 37-49, May.
  5. Heckman, J.J. & Hotz, V.J., 1988. "Choosing Among Alternative Nonexperimental Methods For Estimating The Impact Of Social Programs: The Case Of Manpower Training," University of Chicago - Economics Research Center 88-12, Chicago - Economics Research Center.
  6. Alberto Abadie & Guido W. Imbens, 2008. "On the Failure of the Bootstrap for Matching Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1537-1557, November.
  7. Neumark, David & Kolko, Jed, 2010. "Do enterprise zones create jobs? Evidence from California's enterprise zone program," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 1-19, July.
  8. Leslie E. Papke, 1993. "What Do We Know about Enterprise Zones?," NBER Working Papers 4251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. O'Keefe, Suzanne, 2004. "Job creation in California's enterprise zones: a comparison using a propensity score matching model," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 131-150, January.
  10. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
  12. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
  13. Marlon G. Boarnet, 2001. "Enterprise Zones and Job Creation: Linking Evaluation and Practice," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 15(3), pages 242-254, August.
  14. LaLonde, Robert J, 1986. "Evaluating the Econometric Evaluations of Training Programs with Experimental Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 604-20, September.
  15. Bondonio, Daniele, 2001. "Evaluating Decentralized Policies: How to Compare the Performance of Economic Development Programs across Different Regions or States," POLIS Working Papers 16, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521818551 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Matias Busso & Patrick Kline, 2008. "Do Local Economic Development Programs Work? Evidence from the Federal Empowerment Zone Program," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1639, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  18. R A Erickson & S W Friedman, 1990. "Enterprise zones: 2. A comparative analysis of zone performance and state government policies," Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 8(4), pages 363-378, August.
  19. Alan H. Peters & Peter S. Fisher, 2002. "State Enterprise Zone Programs: Have They Worked?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number sezp, March.
  20. Joel A. Elvery, 2009. "The Impact of Enterprise Zones on Resident Employment," Economic Development Quarterly, , vol. 23(1), pages 44-59, February.
  21. Bondonio, Daniele & Engberg, John, 2000. "Enterprise zones and local employment: evidence from the states' programs," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 519-549, September.
  22. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521522717 is not listed on IDEAS
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