Barred From Employment: Most Unemployed Young Men Have Criminal Records

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SciTechDaily on 2/27/2022 by Rand Corporation

Findings suggested new approach needed to aid the unemployed.

More than half of unemployed American men in their 30s have a history of being arrested or convicted of a crime, a stigma that poses a barrier to them participating in the nation’s labor force, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

By age 35, 64% of unemployed men have been arrested and 46% have been convicted of a crime, with the rates varying only slightly by race and ethnicity.

Researchers say the findings, published by the journal Science Advances, suggest that employment services should focus more on the special challenges facing the unemployed who have criminal history records.

“Employers need to understand that one big reason they cannot find the workers they need is too often they exclude those who have had involvement with the criminal justice system,” said Shawn Bushway, the study’s lead author and a senior policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Employers need to reconsider their protocols about how to respond when applicants have some type of criminal history.”

While there has been much research documenting unemployment among those who have been incarcerated, the RAND study is the first to estimate the incidence of criminal histories among American men who are unemployed.

It’s estimated that as many as one in three American adults have been arrested at some point in their life, a product of the nation’s aggressive law enforcement practices over the past several decades.