top of page

Businesses can't find people to hire. So why is unemployment still so high for ex-felons?

Despite a record 6.7 million open jobs in America and the fact that nearly one-third of small businesses cannot fill open jobs, the stigma against hiring formerly incarcerated people is so severe that more than 27 percent of people with criminal records are unemployed, according to a study from the Prison Policy Initiative. (NBC Think, 7.10.18. Chandra Bozelko/Ryan Lo)

That is higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression, when unemployment was 25 percent — and it suggests that many businesses would prefer to leave positions open rather than hiring formerly incarcerated people, even though economists have speculated that people with felony records would have an easier time finding a job in this time of low reported rates of national unemployment.

But they don’t.

The negative perceptions about formerly incarcerated people persist because business owners and hiring managers aren’t aware that formerly incarcerated people aren’t the liabilities they’re made out to be.

Researchers at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, for instance, studied data on approximately 250,000 applicants for sales and customer service jobs in the U.S., they found that ex-offenders who secured jobs were no more likely to be fired than non-offenders in the same positions. They’re also less likely to quit, making turnover amongst people with criminal records lower than typical employees.

And, when the U.S. military eliminated its ban on people with criminal records and allowed them to enlist, those people performed better than their non-convicted counterparts and were promoted sooner and more often. (Moneywatch. May 9, 2016)

None of this should surprise anyone; it makes perfect sense that people with criminal records understand that businesses don’t want to hire them and they repay the chances employers take on them to prove themselves with superior performance.

with the addition of Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit program that gives tax credits to employers who hire ex-offenders, it makes even more sense to include formerly incarcerated persons as part of an HR manager’s hiring strategy.

To find out more about WOTC, talk to a specialist like Swain Consulting, LLC at 513.818.1753 ext. 4



bottom of page