Yet another sign of the robust demand for workers is that more US employers are hiring applicants with criminal records.
At 4.3%, the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in 16 years, triggering major labor shortages in some industries, such as construction. In response, employers are taking a serious look at the 23 million Americans who’ve served prison time or carry a felony conviction. There’s no hard data to know for sure—the government doesn’t track the employment of those with criminal records—but anecdotal evidence is piling up.
One straw in the wind: The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives has begun to help its members hire ex-offenders.
Depending on your state, you could be eligible for up to $9,000 in tax credits for hiring a formerly convicted employee who meets the criteria of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program.
The U.S. government offers other incentives specifically for employers who hire ex-convicts, such as the Job Training Partnership Act, which may reimburse training wages; and the Prisoner Reentry Initiative, which provides grants to organizations that help ex-offenders transition into jobs. Numerous states offer additional incentives for employers willing to give ex-convicts a second chance.