Chronic Employment Instability and the Workforce System

Awarded Scholars:
Till von Wachter, University of California, Los Angeles
Project Date:
Jul 2018
Award Amount:

Researchers and policy makers are concerned about recent labor market changes that have reduced earnings, employment stability, and the ability to make a gainful living for lower-skill workers. The U.S. assists these workers through the unemployment insurance (UI) and workforce development systems, but only a small fraction of low-wage workers use a large fraction of those benefits. The success or failure of these efforts to reintegrate marginal workers into stable, gainful employment has important consequences for poverty, inequality, and the future of the social safety net. 

Till von Wachter argues the analysis of these issues has been limited by the lack of longitudinal data with sufficiently large samples to support the in-depth study of chronic unemployment.  He will use newly-available administrative data from California to examine employment instability, the degree to which UI receipt is concentrated among a sub-group of workers, and the efficacy of state workforce programs in assisting the unemployed. His research will provide new evidence on the determinants of chronic employment instability and the repeat use of UI, and will provide causal evidence of the effects of UI generosity and return-to-work programs on repeat use of UI and chronic employment instability. 


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