Breaking down barriers: Experiments into policies that might incentivize employers to hire ex-offenders
The rate of criminal punishment in the United States has had far-reaching economic consequences, in large part because people with criminal records are marginalized within the labor market. Given these negative economic implications, federal, state and local officials have developed a host of policies to encourage employers to hire ex-offenders, with varying degrees of success. To inform policies and programs aimed at improving employment rates for ex-offenders, we examined employer preferences regarding policy options targeted to incentivize hiring individuals with one nonviolent felony conviction. In our experiments, we found employers were 69 per cent more likely to consider hiring an ex-offender if a hiring agency also provides a guaranteed replacement worker in the event the ex-offender was deemed unsuitable and 53 per cent more likely to hire an ex-offender who can provide a certificate of validated positive previous work performance history. Having consistent transportation provided by a hiring agency increased the likelihood of being considered for hire by 33 per cent. Employers also were found to be 30 per cent more likely to consider an ex-offender for hire if the government increases the tax credit from 25 per cent of the worker’s wages (up to $2,500) to 40 per cent (up to $5,000) – double the current maximum amount allowed by the Work Opportunity Tax Credit – and 24 per cent more likely to hire an ex-offender if the government completed all tax-related paperwork.