Over 65% of the jurisdictions in our database include questions about employment in their tools.
ORAS-PAT correlates riskiness with unemployment by allocating one point with “part-time employed at the time of arrest” and two points with “not employed at the time of arrest.” VPRAI and VPRAI-R include “unemployed at time of arrest” and weigh it as much as “two or more violent convictions” (1 point).
Viewing unemployment as a risk factor associates all of the factors correlated with being unable to find or hold a job — including those tied to systemic racism and divestment from communities of color — with dangerousness.
Using employment in RATs also fails to consider how certain communities are locked out of the economy and pushed into unemployment or underground work, through disinvestment in their neighborhoods and education systems.
Including financial stability and employment as a variable creates an implicit distinction by race.
The Black unemployment rate has consistently been about twice as high as the white unemployment rate, regardless of education level.1State of Black America: Locked Out: Education, Jobs & Justice, National Urban League (2016)
Nationwide, Black family incomes are now about 60% of white family incomes, while Black household wealth is only about 5% of white household wealth.2Richard Rothstein: From Ferguson to Baltimore: The Fruits of Government-Sponsored Segregation, Economic Policy Institute
The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the 2017 unemployment rate at 4.1% for the entire population, but while it was only 3.8% for white Americans, it was 7.5% for Black Americans.3U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, BLS Reports
The variation is more stark when parsed by gender: the unemployment rate for Black men was 8.1% in 2017 — more than twice that of White men (3.8%).4U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, BLS Reports
The rate of unemployment is also disproportionate among age groups. In the same year, the 30 to 34 age bracket and 50 to 54 age bracket had 4.2% and 3.2% unemployment rates, respectively. For young adults aged 20 to 24, the unemployment rate was much higher, at 7.4%.5U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity, BLS Reports Black and Asian workers also experienced longer periods of unemployment than White workers.
Placing individuals without employment or with low income into a higher risk brackets through risk assessments tools disproportionately impacts Black men and youth at a higher rate than other racial and age groups.