In the News

Congresswoman Lee Leads Letter to President Urging Fair Chance Hiring

Washington, D.C. – Today, more than 70 Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, sent a letter to President Obama to adopt a federal fair chance hiring policy.

This effort was co-led by Congressman Conyers, Congressman Scott, Congressman Davis, and Congresswoman Jackson Lee.

“The federal government should not be in the business of erecting barriers between those who have made a mistake and are looking a job,” said Congresswoman Lee. “By enacting these basic ‘fair chance’ hiring reforms, the federal government will continue to lead as a model employer while working to end the cycle of mass incarceration, unemployment and recidivism.”

The effort was supported by various groups including Policy Link, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Employment Law Project (NELP), PICO Network’s LIVE FREE Campaign and All Of Us Or None, a national organizing initiative founded by formerly-incarcerated individuals to fight against discrimination and for the human rights of prisoners.

Read more here.

Apple misses out on local talent

From San Francisco Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders:

Just last month, Apple chief executive Tim Cook made headlines when he wrote a piece in the Washington Post that panned Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act as “very dangerous.” Apple, Cook wrote, does not believe in discrimination and strives to “do business in a way that is just and fair.” This month, The Chronicle’s Wendy Lee reported, Apple fired some construction workers at its Apple Campus 2 in January because they had been convicted of felonies or face felony charges. Just and fair? Hardly.

Read more at SFGate.com

 

Los Angeles Looks to Expand Its Hiring Pool to Include People with Records

So people with criminal records are not automatically rejected when they apply for jobs, Los Angeles City Councilman Curren Price proposed Friday that employers be asked to conduct background checks only after a candidate has been found to be qualified, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Price said people who have had trouble with the law are often disqualified before they can even really begin the job application process. That makes it especially difficult for those who’ve been incarcerated to re-enter society.

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Movement to Expand Workforce and Find Untapped Talent is Growing Nationwide

Jared Bernstein, a former chief economist to Vice President Biden, is a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and author of the forthcoming book ‘The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity.’

One of the things I think about most in economic policy is how to get to full employment, defined as a very tight matchup between the number of jobs and job seekers. What is the policy agenda that will help generate an adequate quantity of quality jobs?

What’s that? We’re already just about there (i.e., at full employment)?

No way. True, the unemployment rate as measured is within spitting distance of the rate the Fed and the Congressional Budget Office argue is the lowest it can go without triggering inflation (the so-called “natural rate” of unemployment). But as I’ve argued in various places, that number is too high.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to introduce a new feature: Paths to Full Employment. Each week or so, I’ll highlight a policy idea designed to move the U.S. labor market in that direction.

To kick things off, consider the following: We cannot get to and stay at full employment without a strategy to help those with criminal records find jobs.

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