This report examines the impacts of the nation’s largest summer youth jobs program — New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) — on young people’s education, employment, and earnings. MDRC’s evaluation, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and a private foundation, includes a sample of nearly 265,000 young people who applied to SYEP for the first time between 2006 and 2010.

"An Introduction to the World of Work A Study of the Implementation and Impacts of New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program" impact analysis shows that SYEP had large impacts on young people’s employment and earnings during the summer for which they applied.

As a result of the program, those who won places in SYEP through a randomized lottery were 54 percentage points more likely to be employed and earned $580 more during that summer, on average, than those who did not. In other words, the program met its primary objective of increasing the employment and income of New York City’s young people during the summer.

And it did so with minimal “substitution”: most applicants who lost their lotteries, especially the youngest of them (the 14- and 15-year-olds), did not find other jobs during that summer. Apart from these impacts on individuals, SYEP also partly bears the labor costs for a substantial number of employers, including hundreds of day camps. SYEP was less successful in improving longer-term outcomes: the program had little effect on education, employment, or earnings beyond the initial summer.