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Lucy Gorham–PI. While some states have regulated employer access to the credit histories of job applicants, the practice of using credit reports as a screening tool in a variety of contexts remains widespread, with the implications for employment opportunities being one of the most far-reaching. There is much to learn about the extent to which job applicants are feeling the impact, efforts of consumer advocates to limit employer access to consumer information through state legislation and employment law, and efforts to assist job applicants and consumers more broadly to repair their credit reports as a targeted strategy in the employment context. In response, the UNC Center for Community Capital is proposing to write a white paper on this largely unexplored area that documents current employer and workforce development system practices; explores legal and legislative challenges to the use of credit reports by employers and their impacts; innovations and best practices to help job applicants improve their employability through credit repair; employer, workforce system and community-based efforts to assist employees to improve their financial capability; and the policy and programmatic implications of our findings. The paper will draw on the following methodologies:

  • In-depth review of academic and non-academic articles, reports, and publications
  • Field scan of current city and state workforce development programs to identify innovative approaches that integrate financial capability strategies
  • Survey of state workforce development systems to document current practices and innovative approaches
  • Survey of employers to gauge current practices and how those are evolving in response to a changing legislative environment
  • Key informant interviews with up to 80 individuals in workforce development and job training programs, credit counseling agencies, re-entry programs, community college programs, legal/regulatory experts and consumer advocates. The interviews will include perspectives from states that have regulated the use of credit reporting, cities/states that have implemented innovative models for incorporating credit counseling and financial capability into job training programs, as well as the state workforce development systems from the four key Kellogg geographies of Michigan, New Mexico, Mississippi and Louisiana.