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Exploring The Link Between Unemployment And Crime

Friday, August 01, 2014

The monthly jobs report is out: the economy added 209,000 jobs in July, while the unemployment rate ticked up just barely — from 6.1 to 6.2 percent — as more Americans started looking for work.

It’s the sixth straight month where job gains in the U.S. have topped 200,000 — a strong indication that the economy is healthy and growing.

But numbers alone only tell part of the story. Another piece: many of the high-paying jobs that were lost in the recession are being disproportionately replaced with low-paying ones.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks to Robert Crutchfield, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington, and author of the book, “Get a Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime” about the increasing stratification of the labor market, and the connections between unemployment and crime.

So is there any truth to the commonly held conception that people who don’t have jobs are more likely to commit crimes?

“Criminologists have actually been looking at this for quite some time, and the results have been somewhat frustrating, because we find that unemployment, sometimes it leads to more crime and sometimes it leads to less crime,” Crutchfield said. “What we think is it’s not just unemployment, but it’s joblessness more broadly and it’s also people in low-end jobs. When too many of the jobs are in that sector, that can be problematic as well.”

Guest

  • Robert Crutchfield, professor of sociology at the University of Washington, and author of the book, “Get a Job: Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime.”
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Source: NPR

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