The Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) is the federal government’s largest source of federally funded employment services and training. WIA is the latest in a series of federal employment and training programs, the first having arisen in response to the Great Depression.
Making the successful transition to adulthood had become increasingly challenging for disadvantaged young people. Two changes in the labor market have contributed to this trend. First, the rise in demand for higher skilled workers, while increasing the payoff to college, has resulted in declining real wages for less-educated workers.
The number of people incarcerated in the U.S. has quadrupled since the 1970s. The more than 600,000 people who are released from prison each year face a range of obstacles to successful reentry into the community.
While welfare agencies and the federal disability system have common goals of supporting people with disabilities and helping them become more independent, the two systems often have diverging interests as well.
In April 2005, approximately 776,000 young people with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 25 were receiving federal Supplemental Security Income benefits. Individuals who began receiving these benefits before age 18 were expected to stay on the disability rolls for an average of 27 years.
Until recently, employment policy in the United Kingdom had been focused principally on helping people who had lost their jobs to find work. Although some government-sponsored measures were available to help those on the margins of employment retain their jobs and improve their earnings, there had been less support for people once they had found jobs.
For low-income youth who lack basic skills and drop out of school, finding employment at a living wage is a challenge. Developed by MDRC as a nonresidential alternative to Job Corps, JOBSTART was an unusual collaborative effort to help disadvantaged young people join the economic mainstream.
It is widely recognized that having no job or a job that pays a low wage puts people at risk of living in poverty. Less well known, though also well documented, are the dangers that low-wage work and unemployment pose to health by exposing people to physical hazards and psychological stressors that satisfactory employment could prevent.
The wages and earnings of low-income workers have been stagnant or declining in real terms for approximately 35 years. Nationwide, the labor market-driven growth of the low-wage workforce has become a major issue for both the business community and the public.