Potential Wage Increase From an Expungement

We are often asked how much more money can I earn at a place of employment if I have my criminal record expunged. The impact of having a criminal record on a person’s earnings can vary widely depending on various factors, such as the severity of the crime, the industry, and the location. While there is limited research on the topic, a few studies have explored the potential earnings benefits of expunging a criminal record.

One such study is “Expungement of Criminal Convictions: An Empirical Study” by J.J. Prescott and Sonja B. Starr, published in the Journal of Law and Economics in 2019. The study analyzed data from over 1,000 people who had their criminal records expunged in Michigan, USA. The authors found that, on average, people who had their records expunged experienced a 23% increase in earnings within two years after the expungement compared to their pre-expungement earnings.

Another study, “The Effects of Expunging Criminal Records: Evidence from the Public Safety Realignment” by Jennifer Doleac and Benjamin Hansen, published in the Journal of Labor Economics in 2019, examined the impact of expunging criminal records on employment outcomes in California, USA. The authors found that individuals who had their records expunged had a 4% increase in their probability of finding a job and a 22% increase in their wages within a year after expungement.

Related content: Getting a Job with a Criminal Record

It is worth noting that these studies focus on specific populations and may not necessarily generalize to all individuals with criminal records. Additionally, the earnings increase associated with expungement may not necessarily be due to the expungement itself, but rather to the individual’s ability to access better job opportunities or receive professional licensing.

Free & Confidential Expungement Eligibility Test

So let’s do some math to see if, from a purely mathematical perspective, it makes sense to seek an expungement or record sealing. Let’s say you currently earn $45,000/year. An expungement can range from $800 – $2,500 (for a single case). So, let’s say that after your record is expunged you see a 20% raise in wages. If you’re earning $45,000/year, that’s an additional $9,000. So the question is…would you pay $2,000 (one-time fee) for an additional $9,000 wage increase? Or a $7,000 net gain. That’s 350% Return on Investment or ROI in yourself.

While the earnings benefit of expunging a criminal record may vary depending on individual circumstances, the research suggests that expungement can potentially lead to a significant increase in earnings for some individuals.

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