Upjohn Author ORCID Identifier


Publication Date



We draw upon administrative data from an unusual policy experiment in the state of Michigan to study the effects of temporary agency employment among welfare-to-work clients on job retention, program recidivism, and earnings. To identify these effects, we exploit the fact that welfare-to-work clients in one Michigan county were randomly assigned to service providers who had substantially different placement rates in temporary agencies but otherwise similar policies. Our findings indicate that moving welfare clients who otherwise would have been unemployed into temporary agency jobs provides some benefits to these workers, primarily by increasing their short-term earnings. Temporary agency jobs also may slightly reduce program recidivism in the first year. However, these jobs do not appear to help these clients attain steady employment-defined as 90 days of continuous employment-nor do they reduce program recidivism over the longer term.

Issue Date

December 2002


Supported by the Russell Sage Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation

Subject Areas

LABOR MARKET ISSUES; Employment relationships; Temporary employment; UNEMPLOYMENT, DISABILITY, and INCOME SUPPORT PROGRAMS; Poverty and income support; Income support programs; Low wage labor markets; WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT; Public training programs; Welfare to work




Autor, David H., and Susan N. Houseman. 2002. "Do Temporary Help Jobs Improve Labor Market Outcomes? A Pilot Analysis with Welfare Clients." Kalamazoo, MI: W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.