Out of Prison & Out of Work: Unemployment among formerly incarcerated people
Lucius Couloute and Daniel Kopf, Prison Policy Initiative
According to the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), people who were formerly incarcerated need stable jobs for the same reasons as everyone else: to support themselves and their loved ones, pursue life goals, and strengthen their communities. But how many formerly incarcerated people are able to find work? Answering this fundamental question, PPI says, has historically been difficult, because the necessary national data weren’t available — that is, until now.
Using a nationally representative dataset, this report provides what was the first-ever estimate of unemployment among the 5 million formerly incarcerated people living in the United States. Analysis shows that formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression.