“I’m to the point where I’m about to give up hope,” he said.
His experience isn’t unusual, even in today’s upside-down job market. Though many businesses struggle to find workers — even advertising $15 an hour for jobs that typically pay less — residents with criminal records and their advocates in the Pittsburgh area say opportunities aren’t always reaching people who have spent time in the justice system.
It’s an incongruity that pokes holes in a common narrative about the labor shortage: that workers are unwilling, or unmotivated, to return to work during the pandemic. And it shows how stigma and other barriers can prevent people with criminal records from finding work, even as employers struggle to fill jobs.
“There’s still work to be done … to really allow them to see this untapped talent, and this untapped workforce,” said Abby Wolensky, director of the McKeesport-based Employment Institute at Auberle. “It’s just always been a challenge.”
Credit: (Photo via Adobe Stock)
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