Understanding the Challenges to Employment Retention: Reducing Long-Term Disadvantage by Helping Less-Skilled Workers Keep Employment

Awarded Scholars:
Marianne Bertrand, University of Chicago
Kelly Hallberg, University of Chicago
Project Date:
Jul 2017
Award Amount:

Many less-skilled workers never gain a solid footing or experience upward mobility in the labor market.  These workers often move from one low-wage job to another, with long unemployment spells in between which reduce annual income, diminish skills accumulation and prevent workers from building the employment histories that future employers will seek. Furthermore, job readiness training (JRT) programs primarily teach skills for acquiring jobs, not keeping them, and the JRT programs that do address job retention typically focus only on short-term material assistance (for transportation or uniforms) and monitoring to verify ongoing employment. 

Marianne Bertrand and Kelly Hallberg will explore the factors that are associated with high rates of job turnover among low-wage workers and evaluate training models designed to improve these workers' labor market outcomes. They will survey 1,000 long-term unemployed adults who have recently completed a JRT program, along with the employers of participants who found jobs, to better understand the challenges faced by disadvantaged workers in obtaining and keeping jobs.


RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences is a peer-reviewed, open-access journal of original empirical research articles by both established and emerging scholars.


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