The Obama administration issued new guidelines to federal agencies Thursday stating that long-term unemployed workers shouldn’t be discriminated against in hiring decisions, The Washington Post reports.
The move from Obama is an attempt to clear out the labor market and to employ those who through no fault on their own have fallen on hard times for a longer than average time span. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, the data show that the long-term unemployed—those who haven’t held a job in the last 27 weeks—numbered up to 3 million, as of September.
“One of the ways that Federal agencies can ensure fair treatment for applicants who have experienced periods of unemployment and/or financial difficulty is to avoid unnecessary screening mechanisms, especially at early stages of the hiring process, before a candidate’s qualifications have been fully assessed,” the directive stated.
The directive is a follow-up from President Barack Obama’s memorandum in January for agencies to examine their practices to remove discrimination in this area. But since federal agencies won’t be able to pick up all the slack, the Obama administration on Wednesday allocated $170 million dollars for work projects in the U.S. Long-term unemployment remains at 1.9 percent, which is double the historic rate. However, joblessness in general dropped to 5.9 percent in September, showing signs of a slowly recovering labor market. The rate is the lowest since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.
Republicans have placed some of the blame on President George W. Bush for approving increased benefits for the long-term unemployed, which reduced incentives to find work. The benefits have since lapsed. They expired in December 2012, and while the measure passed in the Senate with the help of Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, it has frozen in the House.
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