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Washington State Institute for Public Policy
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Training with work experience for youth

Workforce Development
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2023.  Literature review updated November 2015.
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Youth ages 16-24 may receive job search and placement assistance, adult basic education, ESL and GED preparation, vocational training, or support services such as child care and housing support. All participants in these programs also receive some type of work experience, paid or unpaid. Treatment may be sequential, where participants first undergo training and then receive work experience, or follow individualized employment plans for each participant. Community organizations, welfare agencies, and federally or state-funded programs administered by state, county, or local government agencies typically provide these services to low-income youth.* We do not include programs that target youth still attending high school, so these participants are often high school dropouts. Programs may last anywhere from two to ten months.
*The low-income population may be defined in a variety of ways, including all workers in the 25th percentile of hourly wages, individuals at or below 130% of the federal poverty line, individuals at or below 200% of the federal poverty line, or an income that meets eligibility requirements for welfare or food stamps
For an overview of WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Model, please see this guide. The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2022). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $696 Benefits minus costs ($12,219)
Participants $31 Benefit to cost ratio ($0.39)
Others ($72) Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($4,090) benefits greater than the costs 32%
Total benefits ($3,435)
Net program cost ($8,783)
Benefits minus cost ($12,219)

*The effect size for this outcome indicates percentage change, not a standardized mean difference effect size.

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases. See Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes for additional information.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
20 3 2304 0.006 0.067 25 0.006 0.067 35 0.006 0.924
20 8 10851 0.002 0.027 25 0.000 0.018 26 0.006 0.846
20 6 7923 0.006 0.053 25 0.000 0.018 26 0.012 0.840
20 6 6343 0.016 0.022 25 0.000 0.018 26 0.014 0.517
20 7 7752 -0.050 0.022 25 0.000 0.018 26 -0.066 0.002
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Affected outcome: Resulting benefits:1 Benefits accrue to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Crime Criminal justice system ($29) $0 ($72) ($14) ($116)
Public assistance Public assistance $714 ($260) $0 $357 $810
Earnings Labor market earnings $93 $219 $0 $0 $312
Food assistance Food assistance ($82) $72 $0 ($41) ($50)
Program cost Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($4,392) ($4,392)
Totals $696 $31 ($72) ($4,090) ($3,435)
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Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $7,356 2014 Present value of net program costs (in 2022 dollars) ($8,783)
Comparison costs $0 2014 Cost range (+ or -) 48%
These programs typically last between two and ten months. We estimated the average annual cost of treatment per participant using data from studies in our meta-analysis that report cost estimates (Hollenbeck & Huang, 2003; Kerachsky et al., 1985; Orr et al., 1996; Quint et al., 1997). Costs vary by study but may include administrative costs, employment services, case management, eligibility-related services, foregone earnings, tuition payments, allowances, support services such as transportation assistance and child care costs, and wage subsidies.
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Benefits Minus Costs
Benefits by Perspective
Taxpayer Benefits by Source of Value
Benefits Minus Costs Over Time (Cumulative Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in discounted dollars. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Hollenbeck, K., & Huang, W.-J. (2003). Net impact and benefit-cost estimates of the workforce development system in Washington State. Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.

Kerachsky, S., Thornton, C., Bloomenthal, A., Maynard, R., & Stephens, S. (1985). Impacts of transitional employment for mentally retarded young adults: Results of the STETS Demonstration. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.

Mallar, C.D., Kerachsky, S., Thornton, C., Donihue, M., Jones, C., Long, D., . . . Schore, J. (1980). The lasting impacts of Job Corps participation. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Youth Programs.

Orr, L.L., Bloom, H.S., Bell, S.H., Doolittle, F., Lin, W., & Cave, G. (1996). Does training for the disadvantaged work? Evidence from the National JTPA Study. Washington, DC: The Urban Institute Press.

Price, C., Williams, J., Simpson, L., Jastrzab, J. & Markovitz, C. (2011). National evaluation of Youth Corps: Findings at follow-up. Cambridge, MA: Abt Associates.

Quint, J.C., Bos, J.M., & Polit, D.F. (1997). New Chance: Final report on a comprehensive program for young mothers in poverty and their children. New York, NY: Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation.