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checked the criminal histories of applicants for the last filled noncollege job, of whom 70 percent

of employers say they did. Conditional on answering yes to this question, we then ask whether

they were legally required to do the criminal background check.

Figure 6 shows that about half of employers indicate that they were legally required to

conduct the criminal background check for the last filled noncollege position. We also display

this information stratified by the distribution of employer responses to the question of how often

employers check criminal backgrounds generally. Of course, those employers who indicated that

they never check are not included in the summary data shown in Figure 6. Here, we find that a

little over 50 percent of employers that always check believe that they are legally required to do

so, while the comparable figure for firms that sometimes check is about 20 percent. Thus,

compared with firms that check sometimes, firms that always check seem much more likely to

do so because they are legally required.

In Table 3, we examine the averages of establishment characteristics, stratified by

employer responses to the question concerning the frequency with which employers check

criminal backgrounds generally and whether they were legally required to do so for the last filled

noncollege job. The establishment characteristics include those described above. The results

with respect to the frequency of background checks indicate that establishments that are large, in

the service sector, in the central city, and not-for-profit, as well as those with collective

bargaining agreements and higher percentages of black applicants, are overrepresented among

those firms that always check. On the other hand, manufacturing, smaller and minority-owned

firms, as well as firms with a larger percentage of unskilled jobs are overrepresented among

those firms that never check. These results are consistent with our earlier work and suggest that

firms in industries with greater customer contact, with more formal human resource systems, and

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