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Findings from RCT Grants

A Replication Randomized Controlled Trial of the Nevada Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) Program for Unemployment Insurance Claimants

This well-conducted RCT found that the low-cost Nevada program ($290 per person) produced earnings gains of 13% ($13,234) over five years, and net savings to the government.

Grantee: IMPAQ International. The study report is linked here.

Description of the Intervention: This project was a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Nevada REA program — a mandatory program for new unemployment insurance (UI) claimants, delivered by trained staff at One-Stop Career Centers across the state. The program provides each of the following services during a single interview session: An UI eligibility review to verify that the claimant is eligible for benefits (e.g., has been actively seeking employment); labor market information (e.g., regarding job openings); development of an individual reemployment plan; and provision of reemployment services (e.g., job search and resume assistance). A prior well-conducted RCT, conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession (20092011), found the program produced sizable, statistically significant increases in earnings and net savings to the government, as summarized here.

Study Design: A key aim of this replication study is to determine whether the positive impacts of the Nevada REA program found in the prior RCT could be reproduced in a stronger labor market (201420201. Between January 2014 and December 2015, 91,151 new UI claimants in the Las Vegas and Reno metropolitan areas were randomly assigned to either (i) a treatment group that received the program, or (ii) a control group that was not subject to program requirements. A majority of sample members were white (56%) and male (53%), most had no more than a high school education (62%), and their average earnings in the year prior to random assignment was $30,165.

The study pre-registered two primary outcomes: (i) earnings and (ii) UI benefits collected under the participant’s original UI claim. Both outcomes were measured with state UI records. The researchers measured earnings through five years after random assignment, and UI benefits through one year after random assignment. 

Impact on the Primary Outcomes: The study found that the Nevada REA program increased participants’ total earnings over the five years following random assignment by 13%, or $13,234 per person (the treatment group’s five-year earnings averaged $115,034, compared to $101,800 for the control group). Additionally, the study found that the program reduced the amount of UI benefits that participants collected under their original UI claim by 9%, or $457 per person, over the one-year period following random assignment ($4,620 for the treatment group compared to $5,078 for the control group). Both impacts were highly statistically significant (p<0.01). The reduction in UI benefits more than offset the program’s cost, generating net savings to the government. The magnitude of the earnings and UI benefit impacts are similar to those found in the previous RCT evaluation of the Nevada REA program.

Study Quality: Based on careful review, we believe this RCT evaluation was well-conducted and produced valid findings.2

  1. 1

    Nevada’s average unemployment rate was 7.3% during the new RCT’s enrollment period, compared to 12.0% during the enrollment period for the earlier RCT.

  2. 2

    For example, the study had successful random assignment (as evidenced by highly similar treatment and control groups), no sample attrition, and valid analyses that were publicly pre-registered.