As posting by Pew was picked up by NCSL and widely shared by NCSL. The Pew posting, ‘Ban the Box’ Laws May Be Harming Young Black Men Seeking Jobs, says that “several recent studies have found that black men, even those without a criminal history, are less likely to get called back or hired after a ban the box law is put in place. Researchers suspect that employers who can’t ask about an applicant’s criminal background preemptively weed out young black men, who disproportionately have criminal records.” The posting cites several recent academic reviews: a 2016 study by the Boston Fed; a paper published in the National Bureau of Economic Research by Profs. Jennifer L. Doleac (Univ. of Virginia), and Benjamin Hansen (Univ. of Oregon); and a paper published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics by Amanda Agan (Univ. of Chicago) and Sonja Starr (Univ. of Michigan Law).As reported by Pew, the study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston “found that regardless of race, people with criminal records were less likely to get jobs after ban the box than before. The authors of that study theorize that in the wake of ban the box, which became law in Massachusetts in 2010, employers may have raised the minimum requirements for job applicants, and that more ex-offenders, emboldened by ban the box, may be stretching for jobs they previously thought were out of reach.” The Doleac/Hansen paper “found that young black and Latino men without a college degree were 5 percent and 3 percent less likely to be employed after ban the box than they were before it.” Even though older low-skilled black men and highly educated black women, however, were 9 and 4 percent more likely to be employed after ban the box, one of the authors of the study, Prof. Doleac, said that ban-the-box laws should be scrapped. She told Pew that “[w]e have two very good studies that show it’s really hurting young black men who don’t have college degrees and who struggle in the labor market for other reasons”. For Prof. Agan, “[o]verall[, ban-the-box laws] hurts black people. It’s not just this one cost, it’s a big cost.”
For NELP, “’[t]he problem isn’t ban the box, the problem is racial discrimination and that we haven’t been able to tackle it,’ said Michelle Rodriguez with the National Employment Law Center, which supports ban the box.” Rodriguez added that “’the conclusion really should be from [studies] is ban the box works, but let’s make sure we’re also focused on black workers and discrimination they experience in the workplace,’ Rodriguez said. ‘Why would you throw out all that good when you can … try to target that population that needs more support?’”
Pew noted that “Mychal Cohen, a researcher with the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, said making it easier for ex-offenders to get their criminal records expunged and redacting identifying information such as names and addresses from job applications could help boost the employment of black people with a criminal record.” Examples include certificates of rehabilitation and cited Ohio as a model. A study in the Yale Law & Policy Review by Peter Leasure & Prof. Tia Stevens Andersen (Univ. of South Carolina) found that having a certificate increased the odds of getting an interview or job offer more than threefold, making certificate holders nearly as likely to land an interview or job as those with no criminal record. The Ohio law created a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) (Ohio Rev. Code § 2953.25). The law’s author is conservative, Republican Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati).
Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association. More