Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier


Publication Date



ETA Occasional Paper 2002-07


This report describes a new assessment and referral system that was designed to assist local welfare-to-work program staff in targeting employment services more effectively in order to help welfare recipients find jobs. The motivation for the development of this system was the potential effects of targeting services to meet the specific needs of customers. The system is based on statistical methods and uses administrative data typically collected by welfare-to-work agencies. The Kalamazoo-St. Joseph Workforce Development Board piloted the new system by integrating it within the existing Work First program that it administers for the local workforce development area. The pilot was conducted from January 1998 through March 2000, during which time more than 6,000 welfare recipients participated in the program and used the assessment and referral tools. At the time of enrollment in the Work First program, staff used the statistical tool to make an initial assessment, referred to as an employability score, of each participant's ability to find and retain a job. The staff then used the individual employability scores to refer customers to service providers that offered the set of services and pursued an approach to delivering services that best met their needs. An evaluation of the pilot, based on a random assignment design, found that referring participants to service providers according to their employability assessment increased the overall effectiveness of the program. Using a job retention rate of 90 consecutive days as the employment outcome, the optimal referral pattern based on the statistical assessment tool yielded retention rates that were 25 percent higher than if participants were randomly assigned to providers. The analysis also found that the difference in retention rates between the best and worst referral combinations was 56 percent. Using earnings as a measure of the additional benefits to participants of the new system, the benefit-to-cost ratio ranged between 3.25 and 5.8, depending upon assumptions regarding the length of time the earnings differential between the treatment and control groups persisted. The system was designed to be integrated into most existing welfare-to-work programs and once operational to require minimal (if any) additional staff. The W. E. Upjohn Institute developed the system, with funding from the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor.


U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Policy and Research

Issue Date

March 8, 2002

Subject Areas

UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY, and INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS; Unemployment insurance; Worker profiling; WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; Public training programs; Welfare to work




Eberts, Randall W. 2002. "Design, Implementation, and Evaluation of the Work First Profiling Pilot Project." ETA Occasional Paper 2002-07. Washington DC: U.S. Dept. of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Office of Policy and Research.