Updated: Apr 4
Chicago has recently put forward a change to background checks that would limit employers located in the city to only see results that date back 5 years for any job applicants.
Due to U.S. population growth slowing and labor force participation rates declining, U.S. labor force growth declined to 0.5 percent on average between 2012-2022 compared to 0.7 percent between 2002-2012. Growth in labor force participation is expected to remain at this rate for the next decade, with the potential to perpetuate labor shortages in key industries.1,2
Leading institutions across key industries have made commitments to reform internal policies to “screen-in” formerly incarcerated applicants rather than screen them out.
In their recent commentary piece in the Chicago Tribune, Jeff Korzenick and Brian Fabes highlight recent legislative changes that better connect job seekers with convictions to meaningful opportunities that will help them achieve gainful employment. Korzenick and Fabes highlight employers' continued difficulties when confronting labor shortages and other challenges arising from macroeconomic trends in the United States. They advocate for skills-based and second-chance hiring— tapping into “untapped talent”— as a solution to these challenges.
In this article, Korzenick and Fabes discuss how Chicago has taken the step to help expand individual opportunities by limiting the look-back period for job applicants to five years. This move opens a path to employment and economic opportunity for many people and adds to Chicago's talent pipeline. The authors argue that the need to fill labor gaps and to provide economic opportunity for those with criminal records has become increasingly urgent, as there are more than three-quarters of a million unfilled manufacturing jobs in the US. Chicago's business community has a long history of bold leadership, and there are already several companies leading in the area of employing those with records. The article calls for employers to look beyond the criminal record and consider the context of an applicant's past in order to provide more job opportunities for those with criminal records.
Read Jeff and Brian's full commentary on the new Chicago law and the greater need for fair chance business practices here.
1U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013, December). Labor force projections to 2022: the labor force participation rate continues to fall. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov
2U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022, September). Civilian labor force by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. Retrieved April 3, 2023, from https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/civilian-labor-force-summary.htm