The Catch-22 Between Employment and Criminality

catch 22The relationship between criminality and employment is a “catch-22” situation. Communities known as high crime areas are also high in criminality. So employment would help lower the crime rate. But at the same time these communities are unattractive to investors because they are high crime areas, so no jobs will be created. And so the cycle continues.

This reciprocal relationship presents a difficult problem. Potential businesses are wary of such areas because both their property and personnel are at risk. Goods are likely to be stolen, the property may be damaged, employees could be assaulted and customers intimidated. If business is to be attracted to the area these conditions must be mitigated.

Business also has another concern, the potential pool of employees. This same geographic area may be filled with unemployed people, but do those same people have the skill-set to get and keep attractive jobs? You know, the type of jobs that pay well above minimum wage, offer a chance at promotion and provide a sense of purpose or accomplishment?

This is where the Pro American Party comes in: Tenet #12. “In areas of combined high crime and high unemployment the PAP believes there is a beneficial role for the Department Of Labor to assist that will be in the best interests of all Americans. The DOL will limit the risk to investors who create businesses in high crime areas by providing low cost insurance against theft and/or damage to their property or product. The DOL will also work with the business to determine the skill-set needed to be a successful employee and provide needed training to individuals living in the area.”

supply and demandThis type of intervention is necessary if we are to eliminate historically high crime areas and allow them to be transformed into cohesive neighborhoods where it is safe for both business and people to work and live.

This program will make supply-side economists happy because job training improves the attractiveness of individuals to employers. It will also be attractive to demand-side economists because it reduces the costs of employment borne by the employer.

The Pro American Party believes the strategy outlined above is a much stronger and less expensive option designed to increase employment than previously tried programs.  Back in 1992, HUD provided $168 million to fund ‘Moving to Opportunity;’ a test program to reduce unemployment and crime. With this idea HUD thought they would move residents in high crime areas out of the area and near areas where jobs existed. HUD did not expect (but I’d bet you already have)that this program met significant opposition from suburban residents afraid of the impact of poor minority families on their communities. Further, it was also a failure for the families that it wanted to move because they felt completely out of their element in new and unfamiliar neighborhoods.

poverty experience.pngMarrying economic opportunity to high crime areas, when accomplished, eliminates the isolation of high poverty neighborhoods from the legitimate job market. For the youth in the neighborhood, knowing legitimate jobs are available will increase their motivation to go to school. Once they can see a real connection between education and financial success high school becomes more attractive.  And of course, more attractive jobs means less crime.

A double win-win for them, their community, the businesses involved and the entire country.

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