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WorkAdvance - 7/14/15

There have been many ideas put forth to help rebuild America’s middle class.  Some have proposed higher minimum wages – others have proposed large tariffs on foreign goods and/or vastly reduced levels of immigration.  Some economists have scoffed at such ideas, favoring solutions that make workers more valuable to employers through training. 

MDRC, a New York based policy analysis group, recently released a preliminary assessment of an experiment called WorkAdvance.  WorkAdvance offered targeted sectorial training programs for low income workers in New York City, Tulsa, Oklahoma and in northeast Ohio. 

From twenty eleven to twenty thirteen, about thirteen hundred unemployed or low wage workers were enrolled in the programs.  Participants received services like job placement and post employment counseling, but the major component was training for in-demand jobs.  As indicated by writer Eduardo Porter, after two years, participants made fourteen percent more on average than workers in a control group. 

That amounts to nearly two thousand dollars a year.  The WorkAdvance program costs only five to seven thousand dollars per worker.  One quarter of the workers enrolled in the WorkAdvance experiment had a criminal record.  

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.