Study Shows Blacks Have A Harder Time Getting A Job Than Ex-Convicts
06/16/2005 07:37 PM
A new study of opportunities for entry level jobs reaches a startling and disturbing conclusion; that black applicants who have never been in trouble with the law have only the same or less of a chance of finding work than a white ex-convict. NY1’s Solana Pyne filed this report.
Copyright © 2008 NY1 News
Anthony Nurse studied mechanical engineering at Penn State, but the 25-year-old Brooklyn resident spent the last year as a research subject.
“We went on about three interviews every day for 11 months,” he says.
Two Princeton researchers matched Anthony and 12 other testers in pairs with matching resumes. They had them dress similarly, and schooled them in responses to job questions.
“These were equivalent job applicants in every respect, with the exception of the fact that within certain teams we assigned one of the job applicants a felony conviction,” says Princeton sociologist Devah Pager.
After the testers applied to some 1,500 employers for 3,500 jobs as busboys, couriers, deli clerks and more, they found, according to the Pager: “The effect of race was just as large if not larger than the effect of a felony conviction. So blacks with no criminal background were no more likely to receive a call back or a job offer than a white felon. And it really suggests that being black in America today is equivalent to having a felony conviction.”
All things being equal, a black man with no criminal record was about half as likely to get the job as an equally qualified white man, and had the same, or slightly less of a chance of getting the job as a white man with a criminal record. That is despite laws making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of either race or criminal history in New York.
“I feel as though after doing about 400 interviews personally, that most employers have this stigma, be it race or with your criminal record,” says Nurse. “You can't get your foot in the door, so to speak.”
Black felons fared the worst of all. The difficulties they faced compared to blacks without a criminal record were also significantly larger than those of white felons compared to whites without a record.
They say that's a big deal, as one in four black men enter prison before their 30th birthday, and finding a job is key in keeping ex-cons from returning to crime.
- Solana Pyne