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Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment Program Cuts Time on Unemployment Insurance and Raises Wages

Rockville, Md.  –  The Department of Labor’s Reemployment and Eligibility Assessment (REA) program cut the time people spent drawing unemployment insurance (UI) and modestly increased earnings, according to an Abt Global study of 250,000 UI claimants. The report for the Department of Labor showed a drop in UI claimants, but only about half of the decline represented an increase in work. The other half did not receive UI, but were not working due in large part to state cut-offs of benefits to people who failed to attend required REA meetings.

REA involved a few hours of group engagement and a few hours of one-on-one counseling, generally at a cost of less than $100 per claimant. With such low costs, the program could be cost-effective with only a small impact. A review of combined data from four states—New York, Washington, Wisconsin, and Indiana—showed that the program reduced the time on unemployment insurance by 1.3 weeks. The experience of the states varied considerably, though, ranging from a drop of 0.5 weeks in Wisconsin to 1.7 weeks in Indiana.

Earnings rose $465 in the first year, or two percent of the wages in the control group, and $199 the second year. 

The REA program has been replaced by the Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment Program (RESEA). In response to statutory changes, states are now redesigning those programs and designing evaluations of those programs. “This study’s results have important implications both for the redesign of state RESEA programs and for the design of evaluations of those programs,” said the report’s lead author, Jacob Klerman.

To read the full report or related reports and briefs, see:

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