JustLeadershipUSA applauds passage of “Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act”
Broad coalition of unlikely bedfellows help pass important criminal justice reform
WASHINGTON — Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1076, the Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The bipartisan amendment extends fair chance hiring across the federal government and with federal contractors, ensuring that people applying for jobs with the federal government have a fair chance to compete for a position. By postponing requests for criminal history information from job applicants until the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment, the bill helps to ensure people are judged by their qualifications and expertise. Companion legislation in the Senate (S. 378) sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was also reported favorably out of committee. A diverse group of advocacy and grassroots organizations signed a letter thanking House Members of Congress and encouraging the Senate to pass the companion bill. Justice Reform advocates across the country are praising the bill.
“JLUSA applauds the House for passing the ‘Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act of 2019’ and we are especially thankful to Rep. Cummings and Rep. Collins for their sponsorship and tireless efforts to support this bill on behalf of formerly incarcerated and convicted people across this country,” said JLUSA President DeAnna Hoskins. “We believe human dignity is a right. A conviction history should not be a barrier to a living wage and meaningful work. The Fair Chance to Compete for Jobs Act will ensure that millions of people have a fair chance to compete for federal government jobs and provide for themselves, their families and their communities. It is critical to note that this legislation builds on nearly two decades of activism, led by All of Us or None and other directly impacted advocates, which has made fair hiring a national conversation. While this legislation will not in itself end hiring practices that discriminate against people with records, it is an important step toward creating a society in which every person has a #WORKINGfuture.”
An estimated 70 million people in the U.S. — almost one in three adults — have arrests or convictions that will show up on routine background checks. Although the job market has improved and more employers are actively searching for qualified workers, a conviction record still puts many of these jobs out of reach for far too many workers. According to a recent study, the unemployment rate for working-age adults who are formerly incarcerated was 27.3 percent, which is five times higher than the unemployment rate for the general population. Every year, the economy loses out on $78 to $87 billion in GDP due to the suppressed rates of employment of people with felony records.
The new legislation builds on the bi-partisan movement that has embraced fair chance hiring across the country. Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities and counties, have adopted fair chance hiring reforms, as have many major corporations. Research by an American Enterprise Institute economist and others document that fair chance hiring policies have a positive effect on employment, increasing employment of residents in high crime neighborhoods by four percent, with particularly large gains among the public sector and lower wage jobs.
This vote is one of many steps towards ensuring that millions of Americans are given a fair chance at employment, and we look forward to the Congress’s continued support for this life-changing legislation.