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

Author

Listed:
  • David Autor

    (MIT and NBER)

  • Susan Houseman

    (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • David Autor & Susan Houseman, 2009. "Do Temporary-Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes for Low-Skilled Workers? Evidence from 'Work First'," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 05-124, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:upj:weupjo:05-124
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    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Temporary-help; welfare to work; job placement; low-skill workers; causal effects;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J48 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Particular Labor Markets; Public Policy
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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