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First Advantage U.S. Report Explores the State of Background Screening in a Tight Labor Market

Research Spotlights the Connection between Screening Practices, Candidate Experience and Recruiting Outcomes

ATLANTA (April 2, 2019) – First Advantage, a global leader in background check and drug screening solutions, today released the second report in its five-part series exploring the state of the industry in 2019. Titled “U.S. Product Trends and Insights,” this report examines how companies are using background screening to recruit, engage and retain workers.

Based on survey responses from enterprise customers, cross-referenced with aggregated data from more than 66 million annual global searches, the findings focus exclusively on U.S. practices. From screening seasonality to regional discrepancies across states, the report considers how, why and the different types of information that organizations seek to learn about potential employees. Drawing on the results, First Advantage highlighted five key trends:

  • As best-in-class companies review criteria for handling returned criminal records, some crimes (e., DUI) are trending toward greater tolerance, provided it does not impact the applicant’s ability to perform on the job
  • Retail received the highest drug positivity rate of any industry (7 percent), substantially higher than the average across industries (3.9 percent)
  • The leading cause of drug positives on returned tests is marijuana (79 percent), though most companies (64 percent) said they would not or could not hire an applicant that tested positive for the drug
  • The vast majority of criminal searches are completed in one day (91 percent), helping to promote faster screening time
  • A decline in missing candidate information (21 percent) reinforces report delivery time and a better candidate experience

To support these conclusions, First Advantage explored criminal, verifications and wellness search activity across the country. For the criminal portion, this includes conviction return rate by state, age, category type and action. This analysis discovered that job candidates from 18 to 27 years old have the highest recorded conviction rate, followed closely by those ranging in age from 28 to 37.

For verifications and wellness, the report examined state trends as well as commonly requested screens and tests. For instance, in the case of drug screening, First Advantage found that of the 22 states and District of Columbia where marijuana is legal or decriminalized, 19 of these locations are in the top half of non-negative test rates.

“Between low unemployment rates and evolving state and federal legislation, U.S. employers have a number of factors to consider in 2019,” said CEO Scott Staples. “The national segment of our report considers this, highlighting the trends most likely to impact workforce outcomes and offering companies a line of sight into current background screening practices.”

The “U.S. Product Trends and Insights” report is available now for a limited time on a complimentary basis. To download a copy, please visit


About First Advantage
First Advantage provides comprehensive background screening, identity and information solutions that give employers and housing providers access to actionable information that results in faster, more accurate people decisions. With an advanced global technology platform and superior customer service delivered by experts who understand local markets, First Advantage helps customers around the world build fully scalable, configurable screening programs that meet their unique needs. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, First Advantage has offices throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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