President Obama last week took steps to ensure that employers will not discriminate against the long-term unemployed among job applicants, following up on a pledge last week to pursue his agenda with or without Congress.
Obama issued a memorandum on Friday saying that federal agencies should not look unfavorably upon job-seekers who are unemployed or facing financial difficulties, signaling to those individuals that federal employment will not be out of their reach.
Also that day, the White House announced it had secured promises from more than 300 companies that agreed to not show bias against applicants who have been out of work for more than six months. The administration began working on those agreements last May, according to officials.
The moves show that Obama is using the limited-but-still-influential powers of his office to address the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment numbers, through presidential directives and with help from outside Washington. During his State of the Union address last week, he called on businesses and state political leaders to help achieve some of his second-term goals for the nation.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has declined since Obama entered the White House, but the rate is still higher than it was during all but the last two months of the George W. Bush presidency.
The rate stood at 6.7 percent in December 2013, compared to an Obama administration high of 10 percent in October 2010. It hit a peak of 7.3 percent under Bush in December 2008.
As of December 2013, about 3.9 million Americans had been unemployed for at least 27 months, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s compared to an Obama administration high of 6.8 million in April 2010. The number stood at about 2.6 million when Obama took office.
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