Disenfranchised by Design

Allison Kilkenney - If you’re part of the lucky 29 percent of adults living in the US who attended a college or university, and are now the proud owner of a bachelor’s degree (in addition to a mountain of debt), you’re no doubt eager to find some employment.

Hopefully, you have a perfect credit score, never committed a felony, and have a solid “in” for an entry level position at your dream company. Otherwise, arrival into the corporate world may serve as a rude awakening.

According to a Sallie Mae study, only 17 percent of college kids paid their credit cards in full every month and another 1 percent left that to their parents. The remaining 82 percent carries a growing debt. In 2009, seniors graduated with an average credit card debt of $4,100, up from $2,900 among 2004 graduates. Almost one-fifth of 2009’s graduates owed more than $7,000 on their cards.

Carrying such a fiscal burden is stressful enough, but now indebted graduates may not be jeopardizing just their credit scores — they could also be endangering their job prospects.

Some employers are now making it a practice to check potential employees’ credit scores. Background checks were already a major hurdle for convicted felons, another permanent underclass comprised of millions of Americans, who may have lost their civil rights for something as stupid as a non-violent drug offense. Now, even someone with shitty credit is in danger of being turned away for the crime of being poor, which, ironically, is why most poor people look for employment in the first place. Read more.


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