Issues related to performance measurement long have bedeviled federal workforce development programs. The challenges associated with gauging success have only grown more pronounced during the “Great Recession,” a time when jobs have proven scarce. What is an acceptable workforce development outcome during a “jobless” recovery? Which metrics are appropriate for gauging a program’s performance? What are reasonable benchmarks to use?
To help answer such questions, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center commissioned South by North Strategies, Ltd. in 2011 to document changes in local labor markets during the Great Recession, scan how other jurisdictions have used supplemental federal workforce funding extended under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and interpret outcome data from demonstration workforce development projects in light of local economic conditions and the performance of area workforce development programs serving adult and dislocated workers.
The resulting report served as a companion to a formal evaluation of the Rural Community Mobilization Project, a statewide initiative coordinated by the Rural Center that used federal Recovery Act funds to support local projects striving to address the economic problems of rural communities and assist unemployed and underemployed rural residents.