Data and Measurement

The Problem

Current key performance indicators at government workforce agencies are insufficient to measure progress against job quality goals. Most required metrics, such as Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA’s) common performance indicators or Temporary Assistance for Needy Family’s (TANF’s) work participation rates (WPRs) are problematic in similar ways. For example they are usually:

  • Primarily focused on outputs (e.g., counting number of people or services)
  • Not structured to consider changes over time (e.g., collected at a single point)

  • Focused on wages, neglecting other job quality components such as schedules and benefits

  • Not contextualized or benchmarked (e.g., average median wage is not compared to living wages for the relevant geography or family size)

  • Structured in a way that may encourage perverse incentives (e.g., focusing on the number of placements or completions encourages a provider to enroll people most likely to complete)

  • Insufficient to assess disparate impacts (i.e., without the collection and disaggregation of data by gender or race, for example, it is difficult to determine if a program serves subpopulations equally)

Why This Matters

Once your agency has developed a job quality framework and recommended policies and practices for each component, setting and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) lays the groundwork for long-term success. The best KPIs are actionable, meaningful and accessible (as defined below). This section details the steps to design and implement the data infrastructure necessary to track progress against your job quality strategy. An effective measurement approach will:

  • Report against baseline performance metrics

  • Disaggregate outcomes by key target groups (identified by race/ethnicity, gender, age, etc.)

  • Provide outcomes reporting to track progress against job quality goals

  • Evaluate how specific interventions contribute to the creation of quality jobs and how direct efforts and funding increase their impact

Definitions for building the best KPIs:

  • Actionable: when the measure changes, it’s clear what caused the change and what should be done

  • Meaningful: the measure is easy to understand

  • Accessible: data are easy to collect and analyze

The Solution

Government workforce agencies committed to advancing job quality should consider compliance metrics as the starting point—not the destination—when it comes to job quality measurement and data infrastructure. Compliance is a necessary output of sound program operations, but it shouldn’t be mistaken for an outcome. This section and Results for America's Job Quality Metrics Database provide steps to measure the effectiveness and impact of your agency’s job quality strategy over the long term. Because job quality strategies are new and growing in the fields of workforce and economic development, leading examples are still being built.

Recommended actions can help workforce and economic development agencies advance strategies to sustain their job quality strategy for the long term.