Personalized Information and Prompts to Improve Outcomes for Unemployed Individuals

Awarded Scholars:
Andrew Barr, Texas A&M University
Benjamin Castleman, University of Virginia
Project Date:
Dec 2016
Award Amount:

Each year, millions of individuals experience unemployment spells of greater than six months. Most will fail to find a permanent full-time job within the following year. Reduced job vacancies play a big role, but displaced workers may also lack awareness and/or understanding of job opportunities that are well-aligned with their existing skills and work experience.

Previous interventions have demonstrated the potential for personalized information, well-timed prompts, and access to assistance to improve education, financial savings, and health outcomes. Economist Andrew Barr and education policy expert Benjamin Castleman will explore whether providing workers with personalized and simplified information about jobs and access to help with the job search process will reduce behavioral bottlenecks in the job search process, improve the matching of potential employees and employers, and result in faster and more stable reemployment and greater productivity. They will develop an algorithm that leverages data on the preferences and job history of targeted displaced workers, the transitions of prior cohorts of job seekers who fit a similar profile as the targeted workers, and information on current job openings and hiring demand for different occupations. They will then evaluate the impact of these interventions by looking at administrative data collected by state agencies and conducting a follow-up survey with the job seekers.


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