Big Companies Join Obama’s Initiative to Help Unemployed

By Lesley Rozycki 02-02-14

President Barack Obama / Wikimedia Commons

President Barack Obama / Wikimedia Commons 

Long-term unemployed Americans can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

About half of the nation’s 50 largest companies made a pact with President Barack Obama to change current hiring practices that discriminate against Americans who’ve been out of work for a long period of time. They also pledged not to post ads that discouraged the unemployed.

Mr. Obama sat down with the heads of Wal-Mart, Apple, and other corporate chief executives at the White House on Friday to discuss initiatives to help the unemployed find jobs in both the private and public sectors. 

This meeting comes after a recent failure by Congress to extend unemployment benefits that expired in December.

“They just need that chance, somebody who will look past that stretch of unemployment,” Mr. Obama said at the event. “They just need employers to realize it doesn’t reflect at all on their abilities or their values; it just means they’ve been dealing with the aftermath of this really tough job market, and all they need is a fair shot.”

While the unemployment rate for those out of work for a short time has returned to normal, it is still high for those who have been looking for a longer period of time. According to a recent jobs report, nearly four million Americans had been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. Over half had been searching for jobs for a year or more.

President Obama signed an executive memo ensuring the federal government would follow the same practices.

He also announced that the Labor Department would direct $150 million to partnerships that teach, mentor and put jobless Americans back into the workforce.