A strategic move by JPMorgan Chase & Co. to hire people with a criminal background may initially sound sketchy, but it’s actually a smart investment on several levels.
Surely the bank didn’t get to be central Ohio’s largest private employer without knowing what makes a business successful, even it if means offering jobs to ex-convicts.
Boasting a local workforce of 20,000 puts Chase in stiff competition with other companies for filling open positions as unemployment rates hover either side of 4% — half of a percentage point below that marker nationally and a couple of tenths above it in Ohio.
Economists like to say a rate so low is as good as signifying full employment, where just about anyone who wants to work has a job.
But employers willing to bank on those who have had some run-ins with the law will find a little-tapped market of about 5 million ex-offenders nationwide who are beleaguered by a 27% unemployment rate. And many are starved for the opportunity to prove themselves to companies who give them a chance to rise above past mistakes.
Chase reports that 10% of its new hires last year, or about 2,100 nationwide, had convictions for relatively minor offenses such as drug possession, disorderly conduct and drunk driving. Beyond its own workforce, Chase says it is committed to helping other employers boost second-chance opportunities with entrepreneurship training, good jobs and financial tools.
We also commend Huntington Bancshares for modeling its "welcome" brand by deleting job-application questions about criminal history.
We like that a couple of central Ohio entrepreneurs have already gained national and local acclaim for showing how being a second-chance employer can reap big dividends. Helping employees earn their ways to productive futures is integral to the business strategy of Hot Chicken Takeover and Clean Turn Enterprises.
Having the opportunity to support themselves and their families is the best pathway for ex-cons to stay out of prison.
— The Columbus Dispatch