Federal and State Agencies Tackle WIOA Reporting

Rachel Zinn
June 6, 2017

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) last week released guidance on data sources for reporting on employment outcomes under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), as state agencies continue working to fulfill the law’s performance requirements.

WIOA calls for programs to report on participants’ employment outcomes by matching their data with quarterly wage records collected by the state through Unemployment Insurance (UI) administration. The guidance explains what state and local agencies should do when wage records are unavailable, as in situations when participants:

  • Do not have a Social Security Number on file, so wage record matching is not feasible
  • Are federal or military employees, or self-employed, so wage records do not exist
  • Work in another state and wage records cannot be accessed through a multistate exchange

In these cases, DOL will allow several types of supplemental data sources, including tax documents, pay stubs, employer records, and follow-up surveys.

When calculating employment-related performance metrics, states must include all participants in the denominator, including those without wage records. So states have a clear incentive to find supplemental data whenever possible, to reduce the portion of participants counted as unemployed. National Skills Coalition — WDQC's parent organization — expressed concerns in comments to DOL about the potential burden on states and threats to data quality from widespread use of supplemental data.

DOL offers multiple resources for state and local officials to assist with WIOA performance mandates, as noted in this recent presentation. For example, this web page contains links to guidance letters, reporting templates, and individual record layouts.  

Some states are still struggling to implement WIOA reporting requirements, according to a brief survey by WDQC and the University of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy (DSaPP).

Based on responses from about a dozen states, the biggest challenges include setting up data sharing agreements and reaching consensus on the details of data element definitions. Several states also expect to have data missing in performance reports from non-public training providers, such as for-profit career schools.

To assist states with reporting on eligible training providers, DSaPP is creating a set of open source software modules called the Training Provider Outcomes Toolkit (TPOT), and WDQC is documenting state approaches for overcoming technical and policy challenges. For more information about reporting tools, please contact Christina Sung at csung1@uchicago.edu