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Stimulating Opportunity: An Evaluation of ARRA-Funded Subsidized Employment Programs

In 2009, in its efforts to stimulate the economy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Congress included funding in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund (EF) to help states cover the costs of creating new or expanding existing subsidized employment programs. All told, 39 states and the District of Columbia received approval to spend $1.3 billion of the Emergency Fund on subsidized employment programs. While the goals and structures of the TANF EF-supported subsidized employment programs varied from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, they generally sought to create job opportunities for unemployed individuals so that they could earn immediate income and build experience and skills. Many programs also sought to reduce the costs and risks to employers of hiring during a slack economy and to stimulate local economies. In a short period of time, states implemented large-scale programs, creating more than 260,000 subsidized jobs.