Since research on racial disparities in post-prison employment has primarily focused on the differential effects of stigma on blacks and whites, but we otherwise know little about racial differences, this paper examines racial differences in post-prison employment by industry and geography.
We find that the formerly incarcerated are most likely to find work in a small number of “felon-friendly” industries with formerly incarcerated whites having higher employment rates than blacks. Whites are more likely to be employed in felon-friendly industries associated with the primary labor market, particularly construction and manufacturing, which have higher wages and more job stability. To explain these racial differences, we investigate the degree to which employment among the formerly incarcerated is related to where felon-friendly employers are located and where individuals who work in felon-friendly industries live. We find that post-prison employment is associated more with proximity to workers in felon-friendly industries than with proximity to employers. Because formerly incarcerated whites are more likely to live near current workers in felon-friendly industries, the geography of opportunity in the post-prison labor market contributes to the racial disparity in post-prison employment. (Publisher Abstract Provided)