Beyond banning the box: racial discrimination, 2016 edition

It is widely believed in left-wing circles that much if not most black unemployment is due to invidious discrimination by white employers. Since blacks have higher rates of incarceration than other identity groups, employers who provide a box on employment applications to indicate arrests or convictions have an easy way to “discriminate.”  Thus the movement to “ban the box,” which was successful in Columbia, Missouri and other locations of liberal good will.

The next step for nanny government is to ban credit checks for employment, which can similarly serve as a convenient excuse to oppress. Why should our social justice warriors stop there? Let’s ban pre-employment drug tests while we are at it. They must be discriminatory as well.

Now that 11 states have banned pre-employment credit checks, and the self-congratulation has started to die down, what are the results?  A scholarly study of the credit-check ban looked at 74 million job listings from 2007 to 2013. The conclusion was that black unemployment went up one percent. Another study published in the Review of Economics and Statistics, July 2015, found that prohibition of pre-employment drug testing also increased black unemployment.

The pure in heart who thought that rampant employment discrimination could be ameliorated by government action are perplexed. Rather than give up the narrative of anti-black discrimination they indulged in all manner of speculation. You can read more in a Washington Post story

We’ll suggest a few other speculative explanations not deriving from a liberal worldview. The first depends on the assumption that very few employers discriminate against blacks and those who do hurt their businesses. Why would any employer want to reject the best applicant because of race? Since there are more white people than black with bad credit, drug problems, and jail histories, the result of those feel-good laws is to present an employer with a higher percentage of white applicants than before. Assuming a random, non-biased selection this will lead to more hiring of whites. A related speculative explanation is that the legislation does indeed reduce discrimination, but this time against whites who previously had been subject to discrimination.

Troglo (L. H. Kevil)


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