Panel Paper: Did TAA Improve Participants' Outcomes?

Friday, November 8, 2013 : 10:05 AM
3015 Madison (Washington Marriott)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jillian Berk, Mathematica Policy Research
The Evaluation of the TAA Program was designed to assess the ability of the program to achieve its goal of helping participants find rapid and suitable reemployment. This paper describes results from an impact analysis, using a statistically-matched comparison group and a four-year follow-up survey. We examine the impact of the 2002 TAA program on reemployment and education and training services, employment and earnings, job characteristics and job quality, receipt of government benefits, and access to health insurance.

In examining TAA’s effectiveness as it operated under the Trade Act of 2002, we found that TAA participation significantly increased the receipt of reemployment services and education and training services. Impacts of TAA on engagement in any productive activity were small as TAA participants engaged in training in the period just after job loss, in lieu of seeking and obtaining employment. As we would expect, the labor market outcomes for participants were significantly worse during the first two years after the workers’ UI claim dates than for their matched comparison group members. During the subsequent two years, the gap between participants and comparisons narrowed. In the final year of the follow-up period, TAA participants earned about $3,300 less than their comparisons, but both groups worked about the same number of weeks (33 weeks for TAA participants, compared to 35 weeks for comparisons). We conduct numerous sensitivity analyses and find that the main impact findings are robust to alternative definitions of the treatment group, the comparison group, the matching methods, and the outcome data source.

The next section of the paper explores whether the impacts of the TAA program vary across different subgroups of participants. We consider subgroups defined by participant characteristics, including age, gender, and race, as well as subgroups defined by TAA service receipt. We found that the younger workers, the group with the largest positive training impacts, typically had the largest negative employment and earnings impacts during years 1 and 2, but the impacts became statistically insignificant in later quarters. By way of contrast, the earnings impacts for the older age groups remained negative and significant throughout the follow-up period, especially for the oldest participants. We also estimated impacts by service receipt subgroups. Subgroup findings suggest that impacts on employment and earnings may be more favorable for TAA participants who received training than for those who received income support without training.

The final part of the paper places the impact findings in context and considers the implication of these findings for training programs for dislocated workers. We will also explore why the significant increases in reemployment and training services did not translate into labor market gains during the four-year period following job loss and consider the role of the recession and differences in the timing of labor market reentry.