Dec 14, 2018

Now hiring: Ex-cons, drug users, and indebted grads

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The job search just got a little bit sweeter. 10% of small businesses this past quarter have offered — for the first time — to repay a part of student loans, relax drug policies or hire ex-cons, according to the latest CNBC and SurveyMonkey Small Business Survey. Reeling from the 3.7% unemployment rate, businesses large and small have also raised wages and benefits.

The big picture: To fill a whopping 7.1 million job openings the tightest labor market in a half-century, employers are loosening their requirements and raising traditional benefits to lure workers.

Impact: "Workers are the bigger winners as the labor market tightens," Indeed's Chief Economist Jed Kolko tells Axios.

By the numbers:

  • 12% of small businesses offered student loan repayment as a new benefit in the last quarter.
  • 14% relaxed their drug policies.
  • 12% considered candidates with a criminal record for the first time.

These numbers show small businesses are increasingly tracking with cultural shifts affecting current job seekers: an increasingly indebted workforce, a growing number of states legalizing Marijuana use, and an unemployment rate among ex-felons that's more than 7 times higher than the national average.

Why it matters:

  • These survey results place small businesses ahead of the curve on student loan repayment. While 12% of small businesses experimented with offering this benefit this quarter, only about 4% of companies overall offer student loan repayment benefits, per the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2018 Employee Benefits Report.
  • Labor force participation rates have dropped in areas where opioid prescription rates are high over the last 15 years, Axios’ Caitlin Owens reports, and as Americans take advantage of legalized Marijuana in several states, employers may have a vested interest in overlooking prior or current drug use to broaden their pool of candidates.
  • Unemployment for former felons was 27% earlier this year, per The Prison Policy Initiative’s estimates (there are no federal figures for former felons' unemployment), yet most human resource managers report they would consider hiring those who have been incarcerated (only about 14% of human resource managers say they won’t consider it), per a report by the Society of Human Resources Management.

Yes, but: While firms are debuting these new practices, there has also been a shift in bargaining power toward employers. Weaker unions, outsized firms and more noncompetes "make it harder for workers to look for and get outside offers," Kolko tells Axios.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,405,029 — Total deaths: 344,997 — Total recoveries — 2,168,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,642,021 — Total deaths: 97,698 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans sue California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump accused Democrats of trying "Rig" November's general election as Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California Sunday in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.