Georgia's structurally unemployed workers: do state job training programs help?
Moody, Mitchell Lawrence
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Manufacturing employment in Georgia has declined as thousands of jobs have been lost to foreign suppliers and improvements in productivity. Changes in the state s industrial structure have created mismatches between worker capabilities and the skills required to work in a new field. The transition from a manufacturing to a services economy has strained the ability of many in the state s workforce to acquire to the new job skills demanded by employers. In order to regain employment and maintain former wage levels, structurally unemployed workers need new skills to work new jobs. Unemployed workers sometimes turn to workforce development system (WDS) programs to upgrade skills and provide access to better employment. The purpose of WDS job training services is to facilitate the transition from job loss to stable re-employment. Which job training strategies work or do not work and or for which demographic groups was the focus of this research. The fundamental question posed by this research was, "Can job training help alleviate the adverse wage impacts and time spent in prolonged job search resulting from structural unemployment in Georgia, and if so, which programs work better?" Answering this question requires that structurally unemployed workers in Georgia be assessed with respect to industry, demographics, geography, and Georgia Department of Labor training program exposure as explanatory factors for post-training wage and job search time differentials, both direct indicators of program efficacy to workers. Multivariate regression techniques were used to estimate the impacts of GDOL job training services on workers exiting the state's structurally declining industries and reentering new employment. Among the findings of this research were that: job training was often associated with lower worker wages once re-employed and longer times spent in job search; compared to short-term unemployed workers from declining industries, the long-term unemployed experienced significantly larger adverse wage effects and longer job search times; job training services were found to be most beneficial to workers leaving less-skilled industries and less beneficial to unemployed leaving higher-skilled industries such as manufacturing; and informational job training services were determined to be more cost-effective than occupational skills training.