American Startup Creates Job Board for People with Criminal Records

happy workers in a factory

Americans like to think of themselves living in the land of the free, ironically the country has the highest incarceration rate on the planet (and the greatest number of people behind bars). The laws in the USA are quite strict with zero tolerance and minimum jail time for offenders, this leads to a lot of people having criminal records. Once a person has been labelled a criminal in the states it can be very hard to find work after being released from prison. A new website called 70 Million Jobs has launched to help people released from prison get employment opportunities.

The founder of the site explained why he built it on Hacker News:

I’m something of a domain expert in this area because I myself have a criminal record. In the early 1990s, I worked on Wall Street and some of what I did was illegal. For a time I was a partner at the infamous Wolf of Wall Street firm, Stratton Oakmont (Scorcese film). I ended up with a 2 year Federal prison sentence. I was guilty.

I experienced first hand how difficult it was to get on with life after going through the “system.” I served as Director at Defy Ventures, a great non-profit in the reentry space, but was interested in a scalable solution to ex-offender unemployment and resultant recidivism. I felt a new, for-profit, tech-based approach was necessary, so I launched 70MillionJobs. We’re seeking “double bottom-line” returns: make money and do social good.

Like most job boards, our business model is based upon employers paying to advertise their jobs. We expect additional revenue to come from municipalities, who spend tens of billions of dollars annually, when someone is rearrested.

You might not be surprised to learn that most formerly incarcerated men and women are petrified to discuss their background with prospective employers. So we created a “safe haven” where all parties knew the score, and applicants could relax knowing that jobs being offered were with companies that accepted their pasts.

Read more.
More information on America’s prison dilemma.

Your Next Job Should be Fun

work and smile

As humans we tend to prefer short term rewards over long term gains and this is true even in a job search. We don’t think about the day to day of life when we think about the dream job – or just the next job. When you are looking for a new job think about what is fun for you. Having a good time at your job is more important than getting a higher salary.

It looks like the old adage “do what you love” could be true after all.

In the workplace, we are similarly well aware that it is much easier to get out of bed in the morning if our job is interesting and our colleagues are fun to be around. But we care much less about such benefits when we apply for a future job. We fail to realize that the person we are in the present — the one who values intrinsic benefits — is awfully similar to the person we will be in the future.

This failure to know ourselves is not unique to employees. Gymgoers, for example, say it is important that their present workout is fun and relaxing, yet they care less about whether their future workout provides these benefits as long as it helps them stay in shape. The result is that people often sign up for the wrong gym class — the one that is best at maximizing delayed health benefits yet fails to deliver an enjoyable experience in the moment.

Read more.

Bike Lanes Create Jobs

The University of Massachusetts has completed a new study that shows that bicycle lanes create jobs. As a cyclist, this seems obvious to me since whenever I see a store or restaurant I want to go into I just hop off my bike and I’m in there spending money rather quickly.

It’s good to see that research backs up the importance that bike lanes have to a vibrant economy.

On average, the “road-only” projects evaluated created 7.8 jobs per million, while the “bicycling-only” projects provided 11.4 jobs per million. For example, a roadway-focused project with no bicycle or pedestrian components in Santa Cruz, Calif. generated 4.94 jobs per $1 million spent. In contrast, a bicycle-focused project in Baltimore, Md. produced 14.35 jobs per million. The reviewers attribute the difference to the simple fact that bicycle and pedestrian projects are often more labor intensive.

“It’s no secret that investing in transportation infrastructure creates jobs and helps the economy,” said Caron Whitaker, campaign director at America Bikes [sponsors of the study]. “This study proves bicycle and pedestrian projects are no exception — in fact, they are especially efficient in creating jobs.”

Link to Streetsblog
Link to the study

A 4-Day Work Week Works

Working full time can easily drain one’s life, so don’t do it. The state of Utah now has their government employees work only four days a week and everyone’s loving it. Perhaps during this time of economic recovery we can negotiate a better people-friendly work week for the labour force.

A whole series of unexpected benefits started to emerge. The number of sick days claimed by workers fell by 9 per cent. Air pollution fell, since people were spending 20 per cent less time in their cars. Some 17,000 tonnes of warming gases were kept out of the atmosphere. They have a new slogan in Utah – Thank God It’s Thursday.

But wouldn’t people be irritated that they couldn’t contact their state authorities on a Friday? Did the standard of service fall? It was a real worry when the programme started. But before, people had to take time off work to contact the authorities, since they were only open during work hours. Now they were open for an hour before work and an hour after it. It actually became easier to see them Monday to Thursday: waiting times for state services have fallen.

Think of it as the anti-Dolly Parton manifesto, puncturing her famous song: “Workin’ 9 to 5/ What a way to make a livin’/ Barely gettin’ by/ Its enough to drive you/ Crazy if you let it…” A queue of US cities and corporations like General Motors are following suit, and Britain’s councils and companies should be sweeping in behind them. It’s a win-win-win – good for employees, good for employers and good for the environment.

And once we started on this course, it could spur us to think in more radical ways about work. If this tiny little tinker with work routines leads to a big burst of human happiness and environmental sanity, what could bigger changes achieve?

Read the full article at the Independent.