Panel Paper: Local Promise Programs and Employment Dynamics

Saturday, November 9, 2019
Plaza Building: Concourse Level, Governor's Square 14 (Sheraton Denver Downtown)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Brad Hershbein1, Nathan Sotherland1, Edward Smith2, Jing Cai3 and Lily Fesler4, (1)W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, (2)Kresge Foundation, (3)University of Maryland, (4)Stanford University

Place-based college scholarship, or Promise, programs have rapidly proliferated since the introduction of the Kalamazoo Promise in 2005, and now include those that are statewide as well as community-based. While these programs have as goals the increase of residents’ educational attainment, many were also designed to promote local economic development. Studies of the former margin are increasingly prevalent, but there has been far less empirical examination of the latter. In this paper, we employ synthetic control methods and data from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators and the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages to examine employment dynamics of six prominent and early-adopting Promise communities. Although the estimates have relatively little power, we consistently find minimal impact of the Promise programs on employment growth, hiring rates, and separation rates; we can rule out employment growth of 5 percent over the three to five years following adoption with 96 percent confidence. There is suggestive evidence, though, that the programs can raise wages.