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Can We Improve Job Retention and Advancement Among Low-Income Working Parents?

June 2005

Harry J. Holzer and Karin Martinson, The Urban Institute, Georgetown University.

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In this paper we review the evidence on four approaches to improving job retention and advancement among low-income working adults. These four approaches are: 1) Financial incentives and supports; 2) Case management and service provision, often by labor market intermediaries; 3) Skill development strategies; and 4) Employer-focused efforts, such as sectoral strategies and career ladder development at private firms. Within each category, we find at least some evidence of positive impacts on retention or advancement. Among the most promising approaches are the use of labor market intermediaries for job placements, the use of community colleges for training, and a variety of efforts that involve local employers. Mixed strategies that combine strong financial incentives and supports with labor market services and training also show promise.

Educational Attainment, Employment, Unemployment, and the Labor Market