Large-scale subsidized employment strategies have been around in the United States for the better part of a century. The Works Progress Administration and other New Deal programs were the first, employing millions of Americans during the Great Depression.
Where New Deal programs were designed to counter high unemployment levels on a large scale, most of today’s smaller scale subsidized employment programs have a special focus on improving the employment prospects of those who remain unemployed even when unemployment is improving.
In 2010, after a resurgence in subsidized employment programs following the Great Recession, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor launched a collaborative effort to study the comparative effectiveness of modern subsidized employment models.
The first results of the studies will come out in 2016, but earlier this year, the departments released the preliminary report “Testing the Next Generation of Subsidized Employment Programs: An Introduction to the Subsidized and Transitional Employment Demonstration and the Enhanced Transitional Jobs Demonstration.”
The report details the program variations being studied (modified transitional jobs models, wage subsidy models, and hybrid models). Among the 13 programs is the Bridges to Pathways Program in Chicago, which combines social-emotional learning, high school completion, and paid internships for youth involved in the criminal justice system.
Mark Greenberg of the Department of Health and Human Services, says this about the report: “While we look forward to the research findings, there’s more that states, tribes, and communities can do now, under current law with current resources. States and tribes are free to use TANF funds for subsidized employment, and engagement in a subsidized job counts toward the TANF “participation rates” requirement as long as the family continues to receive TANF assistance…We hope that the release of this new report will spur additional discussion in states and communities about the potential for increased use of subsidized employment as one key part of a strategy for supporting efforts to help families succeed in work.”