Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Once Fallen Job and Welfare Survey has officially closed. Here are some preliminary results.

First of all, I want to thank all 307 respondents to the Once Fallen Job and Welfare Survey. Thanks to the assistance from other groups like FAC, RSOL and their affiliates, Daily Strength, and SOSEN, I received a completed survey from at least 46 states and DC.

1. Florida, 54 (17.88%)
2. Arkansas, 25 (8.28%)
3. Alabama, 21 (6.95%)
4. Ohio, 18 (5.96%)
5. New York/ Texas, 13 each (4.30% each)
6. California, 11 (3.64%)
7. Virginia, 10 (3.31%)
8. Michigan/ Pennsylvania, 9 each (2.98% each)
9. Colorado, 8 (2.65%)
10. Georgia/ Maryland/ Nebraska/ New Mexico, 7 each (2.32% each)
11. Connecticut/ Illinois/ Louisiana, 6 each (1.99% each)
12. Oregon, 5 (1.66%)
13. Missouri/ Nevada/ Wisconsin/ Washington DC, 4 each (1.32% each)
14. Arizona/ Kansas/ Maine/ New Jersey/ Utah/ West Virginia, 3 each (0.99% each)
15. Idaho/ Kentucky/ Massachusetts/ Montana/ North Carolina/ Oklahoma/ Tennessee/ Washington State, 2 each (0.66% each)
16. Alaska/ Hawaii/ Indiana/ Iowa/ Minnesota/ Mississippi/ Rhode Island/ South Carolina/ Vermont/ Wyoming, 1 each (0.33% each)
17. Delaware/ New Hampshire/ North Dakota/ South Dakota, US Territories, Native American Tribal Lands, 0 (0%)

I know you are dying to get the full results, but crunching all of the numbers, writing the report, proofreading and editing the report, and getting it out there may take a little time. However, I created a preliminary result to tide everyone over in the meantime. I have written this as part of my Informational CorrLinks Newsletter (ICoN), a newsletter I make for prisons inmates that use the CorrLinks email system (You can download the lastest ICoN at oncefallen.com/icon). 

First, it should come as no surprise that a number of SOs have experienced significant unemployment and housing problems. Almost half of respondents are unemployed, though some are retired or on welfare. Only 31% had a full time job (4 respondents had 2 jobs). Only 26% reported making over $30,000 last year, and 31.6% reported living below the federal poverty line. Almost half answered they have lost a job due to their status; 82% reported being denied work due to status; half reported harassment at work. About 37.7% experienced homelessness at some point (though only 3.4% of respondents were currently homeless at the time the survey was taken); amazingly, one-third owned their own home; 23% lived rent-free with a relative or through a program; about 40% rent an apartment, with 15% sharing living expenses; only one respondent is receiving government housing (achieved through a lawsuit). This is interesting because 78% of respondents reported having at least some college, with 50% holding a college degree. (Also of note on demographics, 55% of survey takers were ages 41-65 and 8% were 65+; only a third reported being married and living with spouse; only half has children; only 17% have minor children living with them.)

Despite so many college-educated SOs, respondents reported the jobs they held since their release are those most associated with low-pay and high stress – unskilled labor jobs (day labor, custodial, other manual labor), skilled labor (trades), restaurant jobs, manufacturing/ warehouse, and retail/sales jobs were the most common responses. Job types with a medium amount of reported jobs held by respondents were truck driving/ delivery, construction, and Customer Service (stores or call centers). I may be encouraging to know that a handful of individuals have held jobs in nearly every type of job category, including government, legal, non-profits, research, banking, and even the scientific categories, and 10% reported having incomes over $50,000 a year. Very few (almost 20% of those holding a job) reported working for a “franchise” business like McDonald’s or Walmart; twice as many reported being self-employed; another third worked for a small business; the rest either worked for a business run by a friend/ family member or worked as a contractor (that included day labor). Nearly half of these jobs did not conduct a background check, according to respondents. 

Because some SOs have certain computer-related restrictions, it was encouraging to know that “old-fashioned” ways of job hunting are still useful. Employment offices, networking, walk-ins, and want-ads were still utilized by over half of job-seekers. The bad news is that it took 28% of respondents over a year to find a new job, & about 20% have estimated having filled out over 100 applications before either landing a job or giving up. 

About 53.6% reported being on some kind of welfare program. The most common kind of public assistance used were food stamps/ SNAP (27%) and assistance from friends and family (29%); 13% used food and clothing charities,9% used other assistance programs like community action agencies or churches, and 8% were on disability/ SSI. Only 2% received any kind of housing/ rental assistance programs. 

It is important to point out that less than half of respondents identified themselves as members of any online SO activism groups, a third of the respondents were classified Tier 1/ “Low Risk,” a third were classified Tier 2 or higher, and another third were from states with no formal classification system. Many of the respondents were from FL, AL, AR, & OH. Since this was an online survey promoted primarily through SO activist & support groups, this may not completely reflect the true unemployment rates, since some are barred from the Internet per terms of supervision. 

The full study will yield results I think most of us suspected from the start. The short answer is that finding employment as a registered citizen is going to be a slog. It is difficult, but not impossible, to find work. Based on this study, it seems employed SOs are most likely to work a “dead end job” or be self-employed, making a low wage, and with a fair chance of harassment problems at work. Also, expect to fill out lots of applications and spend upwards of a year or more searching for a job. However, there is hope of having a better life even as a registered citizen. A notable minority of SOs have good jobs and own their own homes. If you cannot get a job, at least you can qualify for a number of assistance programs, with the notable exception of housing (SOs are banned from Sec8 IF the registration requirement is lifetime). Though this survey hasn’t discovered anything groundbreaking, the goal was to help you understand the job climate as an SO. It isn’t hopeless, but obviously harder.

PS: I wrote an article about one of my recent job experiences, which has been published on RSOL's supplementary project 'Tales From The Registry." Please check it out. 


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  2. thanks for your good work Derek
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