As workforce dwindles, background checks dig less deeply

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — Friday morning, a new jobs report is due for release, and there’s no reason to expect the unemployment numbers won’t continue the fairly steady fall they’ve taken since April of 2020, when nearly 15 percent of America was without a job.

In today’s competitive employment world, one of the tactics businesses are using to recruit candidates is dropping the traditional background checks for ones that are more lenient.

The increasingly tight job market is driven by a number of factors, chief among them the pandemic, which forced many businesses to close or cut staff over the last few years. David Lewis, CEO of Operations, Inc., told NewsNation’s Aaron Nolan the workforce is evolving from senior citizens retiring or feeling unsafe toward the young professionals moving forward and starting their own businesses.

“So you’ve got a deck stacked against you. And that means that the depth of that pool is looking more like a very shallow puddle in terms of how many people are out there to be able to fill positions right now. A lot of things have happened in the last two years, and you’ve got a lot of people whose priorities have changed,” Lewis said.

To remain competitive, businesses are having to change their hiring and retention practices. A recent article by Axios suggests many businesses will be moving from the traditional seven-year background check to one that only covers one year.

Lewis is seeing this, too, and he says one of the main drivers behind it has nothing to do with the job market directly; it’s driven by cannabis. As it became legal in more and more states, and the public acceptance of pot increased, employers who completely forbade their new hires from having anything to do with weed on their records found themselves in an increasingly untenable position.

“At the end of the day, too many candidates were winding up failing drug tests. For those companies that were testing for it raised sort of this societal question, do we really care if people are having an edible or smoking a joint?” Lewis said.

However, there has to be a balance. Lewis emphasizes that while companies liberalize their background checks, they still have to be careful. “You don’t want to be in a position where you open up the floodgates so wide, that you start letting people in who you regret that you’ve hired later down the road,” Lewis said, adding that companies are getting desperate.

The weekly unemployment numbers have fallen steadily since the beginning of 2022, after a brief jump in December of 2021.

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