NEWWS was designed to directly and reliably test the effects of alternative approaches to helping welfare recipients find jobs and leave public assistance. The evaluation examined the effects of 11 mandatory welfare-to-work programs on welfare recipients and their children. The interventions operated in seven sites around the country and took different approaches to helping welfare recipients find jobs, advance in the labor market, and leave public assistance.
There were three approaches tested – two primary preemployment approaches (one that emphasized short-term job search assistance and encouraged people to find jobs quickly and one that emphasized longer-term skill-building activities, primarily basic education, before entering the labor market) — and a third approach that mixed elements of the other two. The programs were operated in seven sites across the country: Atlanta, Georgia; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Riverside, California; Columbus, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Portland, Oregon.
The study found that both the employment- and education-focused approaches substantially increased earnings during the five-year follow-up period, although the employment-focused approach produced larger increases in earnings and the effects emerged earlier in the follow-up period. Most of the programs increased earnings during the second and third years of the follow-up period, and the effects generally faded by the fourth and fifth years. Only two programs continued to produce statistically significant earnings impacts at the end of the fifth year. A subsequent analysis found no effects on work or earnings 10 to 15 years after study entry. The programs reduced public assistance receipt over the five-year period. These reductions offset the increases in earnings, however, with the result that there were no significant impacts on income (measured as earnings plus public assistance and tax credits minus payroll taxes).
See the following report for a summary of effects and a list of publications from the study: Hamilton, Gayle. 2002. Moving People from Welfare to Work: Lessons from the National Evaluation of Welfare-to Work Strategies. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.mdrc.org/sites/default/files/full_453.pdf