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When it comes to getting a job, even underage drinking will hurt

With the job market still in the doldrums, employers looking for easy ways to "screen" the multitudes of job seekers who apply for any given position can do so simply by the background check. If anything comes up - relatively minor underage drinking charges, for instance - this gives the employer an easy excuse not to hire.

"Criminal record? Boom, you're out," says labor expert John Quinterno, as the Republic reports.

So, in North Carolina, the number of people looking to get their criminal records expunged has tripled recently - 76,000 people have gotten their records expunged over the last dozen years in North Carolina.

Quinterno says, "When jobs are scarce and firms are flooded with applications, they are looking for easy ways to screen people out."

On the one hand, an underage drinking charge is relatively minor. There are worse crimes. But compared to a job applicant who has an underage drinking offense on his or her record, to a job applicant with a squeaky clean record, it's easy for employers to place the former job applicant's resume in the slush pile.

And North Carolina hasn't always been easy on young people convicted of crimes. According to one former state prosecutor, "In North Carolina, we've let this past mistake follow them around for the rest of their lives."

Fortunately, the North Carolina legislature recently passed a law that allows 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds with nonviolent offense convictions to apply to have their criminal records expunged.

Source: The Republic, "Newspaper report: Number of NC residents having criminal records expunged tripled in decade," 6/26/11

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