Earnings Progression and the Workforce Investment Act: Evidence from Washington State


  • The author gratefully acknowledges comments from Robert Plotnick, Mark Long, William Zumeta, David Harrison, Joaquin Herranz, Jr., Anna Haley-Lock, Jennifer Romich, Michelle Ennis, Kenneth Troske, Christopher Jepsen, Ernst Stromsdorfer, numerous seminar participants, two anonymous reviewers, and the staff of the Washington workforce agencies. This article was funded in part by federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) under Contract Number DOLJ061A20380. The contents of this publication do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement of same by the U.S. Government. Additional funding was provided by the University of Oregon Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management.


This research measures earnings progression among participants in federally funded Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs in the state of Washington during the period 2001 through 2008, using state administrative data and propensity score-weighted regressions. Unlike previous evaluations that have emphasized earnings levels, this study addresses both earnings progression and levels to assess whether workers are on a path to reaching economic self-sufficiency within a short time after participation. The analysis finds that participants in WIA Adult services had similar earnings progression as people receiving only less-intensive Labor Exchange services.