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Employer Demand for Ex-Offenders: Recent Evidence from Los Angeles

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze employer demand for ex-offenders using a recent employer survey taken in Los Angeles in 2001. We analyze not only employer stated preferences to hire offenders, but also the extent to which they actually do so. In addition, we examine the extent to which employers check the criminal backgrounds of job applicants, and the nature of such criminal background checks. We find that employers stated willingness to hire ex-offenders, as well as their actual hiring of such workers, is very limited. This aversion varies with the characteristics of the offender - with employers being less averse to those charged with drug or property offenses, and more averse to those charged with a violent crime, those recently released from prison, and those without work experience. We also find that employer use of criminal background checks increased over the 1990s – and increased particularly after 9/11/01. The implications of these findings for the employment opportunities of ex-offenders and for policy are discussed.

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