500 Education, Training, Employment & Social Services:Eliminate Job Corps

Savings in Millions of Dollars
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021
  • 2022
  • 2023
  • 2024
  • 2025
  • 2016-2020
  • 2016-2025


Savings are expressed as budget authority as reported on page 233 of “Analytical Perspectives, Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2015, Table 29-1. Federal Programs by Agency and Account”. Budget authority is not provided for 2025, but is assumed to increase at the same rate as the geometric mean of the previous nine years.


Technical Notes on Scoring

CBO Baseline

Unless otherwise noted, calculations for savings for each recommendation relies on the most recent Congressional Budget Office baseline, as found in “An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024,” published August 27, 2014, has been used.

Savings “Totals”

While totals for the five and 10 year savings are provided by section and for the complete set of recommendations, there are two reasons they should not be viewed as representing total savings for The Budget Book.

First, as noted in the introduction, The Heritage Foundation would recommend that the savings realized in the Function 050 Defense section would stay within the Department of Defense to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.

Second, the numbers cannot be deemed to represent the realized savings if every single recommendation were adopted because policy changes made in one program can impact spending levels in other programs.  Thus, the numbers in the table do not reflect any potential interactions between the various policy changes affecting spending or savings.


Heritage Recommendation:

Eliminate Job Corps. This proposal saves over $1.7 billion in 2016, and $19 billion over 10 years.


Job Corps doesn’t work for members or taxpayers. Fire it to save $19 billion.

The National Job Corps Study, a randomized experiment—the “gold standard” of scientific research—assessed the impact of Job Corps on participants compared to similar individuals who did not participate in the program. For a federal taxpayer investment of $25,000 per Job Corps participant, the study found.

  • Compared to non-participants, Job Corp participants were less likely to earn a high school diploma (7.5 percent versus 5.3 percent);
  • Compared to non-participants, Job Corp participants were no more likely to attend or complete college;
  • Four years after participating in the evaluation, the average weekly earnings of Job Corps participants were a mere $22 higher than the average weekly earnings of the control group; and
  • Employed Job Corps participants earned only $0.22 more in hourly wages compared to employed control group members.

If the Job Corps actually improves the skills of its participants, it should have substantially raised their hourly wages. A paltry $0.22 increase in hourly wages suggests that Job Corps does little to boost the job skills of participants.

A cost-benefit analysis based on the National Job Corps Study found that the benefits of the Job Corps do not outweigh the cost of the program. Job Corps does not provide the skills and training to substantially raise the wages of participants. Costing $25,000 per participant over an average participation period of eight months, the program is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.

Job Corps doesn’t work for members or taxpayers. Fire it to save $19 billion.

Contributing Expert

David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D. is a leading expert on criminal justice programs in The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis. A Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis at the think tank, Muhlhausen has testified frequently before Congress on the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement grants administered by the U.S. Justice Department.

See publications by David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D.

David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D.Research Fellow in Empirical Policy Analysis

Heritage Expert

As senior policy analyst in labor economics at The Heritage Foundation, James Sherk researches ways to promote competition and mobility in the workforce rather than erect barriers that prevent workers from getting ahead.

See publications by James Sherk

James SherkSenior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics

Additional Reading