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Obama and Major CEOs Pledge to Tackle Long-Term Unemployment

Yesterday President Obama called on American business to aid the swelling ranks of long-term unemployed in securing jobs. Obama has published a presidential memorandum pledging that the federal government will commit to the same.
Both the President and Vice President met with CEOs from some of America’s largest and most influential companies to discuss the problem, which will be followed by discussion of a “best practices” pledge that nearly 300 companies have already signed. Obama also plans to announce a $150 million grant program that will incentivize local governments and business leaders to create alliances that help the long-term unemployed find jobs.
Friday’s events emerge out of the president’s promise in his State of the Union address earlier this week to tackle long-term unemployment head on, and give job-seekers more opportunity to be considered by possible employers.
The administration is asking companies to eliminate practices it says can discriminate against people who’ve been unemployed for several months or longer.
“Someone almost gets a job at three months, they almost get a job at five months — suddenly they can’t even get an interview,” National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling explained to the press on Thursday. “They become very discouraged, it’s very demoralizing to send out hundreds of résumés and not get an interview and it leads to a negative cycle.”
Among the best practices guidelines are suggestions to ensure that job ads don’t discourage or discriminate against long-term unemployed candidates, as well as updating hiring procedures so they don’t end up putting people at a disadvantage because of their employment status.
The Labor Department counts “long-term unemployed” as those who have looked for a job without success for 27 weeks or more. This group presently makes up more than 37% of those who are out of work.
Sperling said he, Obama, and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett have personally reached out to heads of companies over the past few months to support the initiative.
One executive Sperling personally emailed and sold the idea to was News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch.
“He responded directly by email to say he thought this was a strong idea and then asked to have both the companies that he is in charge of — News Corp. and 21st Century Fox — join on,” Sperling said.
Other firms that have signed the pledge include Fortune 500 companies such as Wal-Mart, Apple and Ford, and banks like Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase

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