According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current estimated number of unemployed persons is 13.9 million, making the unemployment rate approximately 9%. The number of long-term unemployed (those that have remained jobless for over 27 weeks) is estimated to be 5.9 million which is about 42.4% of the total unemployed.
Of this, Black and Latino persons hover at even higher unemployed rates. Thankfully, employers are responding with help wanted ads—although sometimes, the unemployed need not apply.
The discrimination against job applicants because they are unemployed is not a new invention, although recently the White House took note and decided to address the issue head-on. In September of this year, President Obama revealed
The American Jobs Act of 2011, a comprehensive unemployment reform and job creation bill. The bill includes measures which would help restore jobs to those workers living in the United States, such as the “Buy American” section, which offers funds in connection with the act to those which would be building or repairing a public building, as long as the materials used were created or purchased in the United States.
However, the part of the Act garnering much of the public’s attention is the addition of the unemployed to the discrimination protections already afforded by federal law. The Act attempts to give voice to a rapidly intensifying clamor from the unemployed or underemployed by creating a new protected class and curtailing discriminatory advertisements.
The Act would serve to add unemployment to the now standard classes which federal law protects from employment discrimination and discriminatory hiring practices: race, age, color, religion, gender, national origin, and disability status, among others. The Act will seek to prohibit an employer from rejecting a job applicant solely on the basis that the applicant is unemployed. In addition, if the Act passes, it will prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that specifically exclude the unemployed—like these advertisements taken from recent web postings which mandate that an applicant be “currently or recently employed.”