Get a Job

Labor Markets, Economic Opportunity, and Crime

303 pages

11 maps, 14 figures, 6 tables

May, 2014

ISBN: 9780814717080



Also available in


Robert D. Crutchfield is Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington. He has served as a juvenile probation officer in Mercer County Pennsylvania and as a Parole Agent for the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole.

All books by Robert D. Crutchfield

Are the unemployed more likely to commit crimes? Does having a job make one less likely to commit a crime? Criminologists have found that individuals who are marginalized from the labor market are more likely to commit crimes, and communities with more members who are marginal to the labor market have higher rates of crime. Yet, as Robert Crutchfield explains, contrary to popular expectations, unemployment has been found to be an inconsistent predictor of either individual criminality or collective crime rates. In Get a Job, Crutchfield offers a carefully nuanced understanding of the links among work, unemployment, and crime.              
Crutchfield explains how people’s positioning in the labor market affects their participation in all kinds of crimes, from violent acts to profit-motivated offenses such as theft and drug trafficking. Crutchfield also draws on his first-hand knowledge of growing up in a poor, black neighborhood in Pittsburgh and later working on the streets as a parole officer, enabling him to develop a more complete understanding of how work and crime are related and both contribute to, and are a result of, social inequalities and disadvantage. Well-researched and informative, Get a Job tells a powerful story of one of the most troubling side effects of economic disparities in America.


  • "Crutchfield’s much anticipated Get a Job delivers! In it, he draws from his decades of storied research, together with personal insights, to tease out the complex relationship of the economy and work to crime. This sophisticated yet highly engaging work distills key insights, making sense of seemingly paradoxical historical trends and cross-national comparisons, while carefully embedding the analysis in the intersections of race, class, and gender. Get a Job is an excellent, important, and timely resource."

    —Jody Miller, author, Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence

  • "Get a Job takes a giant step to unravel the modern paradox of declining crime in the midst of deepening fissures in contemporary labor markets. Crutchfield weaves evidence from across the social sciences and the lived experiences of increasingly marginalized workers to advance a theory of persistent crime, stratified labor, and deepening economic inequality in the modern world of transient and futureless jobs. More than a strong read, it sets an agenda for the next generation of research on crime and work in the new Western economies."

    —Jeff Fagan, co-editor, The Changing Borders of Juvenile Justice: Waiver of Adolescents to the Criminal Court

  • “[…] Get a Job offers a detailed discussion of labor-market stratification and crime.  Readers will find an unconventional combination of scholarly work and personal voice, with nuanced descriptions of anomalies and discrepancies, and a detailed agenda for future study.”

    Social Forces