President Obama’s proposed bill for job creation includes several provisions to support unemployment workers.
The jobs bill would extend both monetary and job services benefits. It also has a detailed plan to allow states to offer training and other support to those who wish to become self-employed.
An interesting part of the bill addresses a key barrier facing the unemployed: they are unemployed. The EEOC has been concerned about the overt preference given by employers to people who already have jobs; some ads state that they will only consider currently employed applicants. To counter that preference, the jobs bill incorporates a carrot and stick approach. First, it offers incentives to employers who hire someone who has been unemployed for at least six months. Employers can get up to $4,000 as a tax credit. Tax credits are always popular, since they are a direct subtraction from the tax liability, not just a deduction from income.
The stick is called the “Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011,” which would prohibit discrimination against the unemployed. The EEOC would have enforcement authority, much like with other forms of discrimination. This provision would eliminate job announcements that require current employment, and also ban employers and agencies from refusing to consider or hire someone on the basis that they are unemployed at the time they seek new employment. Failure to hire cases are difficult to prove, since the employer rarely states why someone does not get a job. Once the motivation is known to be illegal, such a statement would be an endangered creature. Still, with large employers or those with loose lips, the pattern of refusing to consider the unemployed may have to change.