the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: Getting Long-Term Unemployed Americans Back to Work

In January, President Obama issued a three-part call to action – to employers, to communities across the country, and to federal agencies – to help Americans who are ready to work find jobs, and to help more of the long-term unemployed get back to work.  That included unveiling a set of “best practices” being taken by leading employers – including over 80 of the nation’s largest companies – around recruiting and hiring the long-term unemployed, to remove some of the barriers that make it harder for them to navigate the hiring process.

Today, building on the President’s call to action, the White House is providing an update on progress since January and additional steps—taken in conjunction with businesses, non-profit leaders, governors and mayors and federal agencies—to help ensure that Americans still looking for work have a fair shot, and American businesses benefit as a result.

Since December, the long-term unemployment rate has fallen from 2.5 percent to 1.9 percent. The number of long-term unemployed – those unemployed more than 6 months – has fallen by 900,000. This decline accounts for around 90 percent of the total drop in unemployment in the past 10 months. But there is still work left to do. As more jobs are created, it is critical that Americans with skills, experience, and a desire to work have every opportunity to get back to work to maximize the full potential of our talent pool.

Today, the White House is announcing:

  • $170 Million in DOL Grants to Support Partnerships that Connect the Long-Term Unemployed to Work. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez is announcing 23 grants from the Department of Labor’s H-1B funds – totaling $170 million – for programs in 20 states and Puerto Rico to help the long-term unemployed return to the workforce. Grants were awarded to partnerships between non-profits, local government, and employers to train and match long-term unemployed job seekers for in-demand jobs.
  • Progress on Business Efforts to Improve Recruiting and Hiring of Long-Term Unemployed. In January, the Administration announced a call to action for businesses to adopt best practices for hiring the long term unemployed and over 300 businesses – including 80 of the nation’s largest companies – announced they were adopting these best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed to ensure that these candidates receive a fair shot during the hiring process. Today, the Vice President, the Director of the National Economic Council, and the Secretary of Labor are meeting with the Chief Human Resource Officers of many of these leading companies who have found innovative ways to better integrate applications from the long-term unemployed into their hiring process.  Deloitte Consulting and Rockefeller Foundation are also releasing handbooks, created in consultation with HR departments in many companies, which can be used by employers and long-term unemployed job seekers to return a greater number of people to the workforce.
  • Ensuring Federal Hiring Process Gives Long-Term Unemployed Job Applicants a Fair Shot. Following up on a Presidential Memorandum issued in January, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing guidance to Federal agencies to ensure that individuals who are unemployed or have faced financial difficulties because of circumstances like job loss receive fair treatment and consideration for employment by Federal agencies. 

$170 Million for Ready to Work Partnership Grants

In January, the President announced that the Department of Labor would make existing funds available to help expand successful partnerships among employers, non-profit organizations, and our public workforce system to provide long-term unemployed job seekers with the range of services, training, and access they need to fill jobs in demand by employers.

Today, the Secretary of Labor is announcing 23 grants from the Department of Labor’s H1-B funds – totaling $170 million – for programs in 20 states and Puerto Rico to support the hiring of long-term unemployed workers. All of the partnerships funded today include the following key features:

  • Employer Engagement and Support in Training Program Design – Including Many Commitments to Consider Hiring Qualified Participants. Training programs funded by these grants address the skills and competencies needed by employers and high-growth industries, leading to the employment of qualified participants. Many projects include commitments from employers to hire and/or interview program participants that complete work-based training programs.
  • Reemployment Services Tailored to Match Long-Term Unemployed Workers’ Individual Needs for Hiring Success.  Each grantee has committed that at least 85 percent of the individuals served will be long-term unemployed. Each grantee will conduct a comprehensive, up-front assessment of an individual’s needs and skills, resulting in customized interventions including intensive coaching and other short-term services, short-term training, or longer-term training leading to a degree or certificate.
  • Work-based Training That Enables Earning While Learning Through Models Such as On-the-Job Training (OJT), Paid Work Experience, Paid Internships and Registered Apprenticeships. All projects will incorporate some form of work-based learning. Fifteen will use formal “on-the-job” training arrangements in which public dollars help subsidize training costs. 

Examples of winning partnerships include:

  • San Francisco Jewish Vocational Services Tech Start. Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) worked closely with local companies, including eBay/PayPal, Entelo, Evolv, Zynga, Charles Schwab, and Twitter to develop a training model built on in-demand technology skills, skills demonstrations, networking, and deep employer engagement. JVS will assess long-term unemployed individuals and offer three different career tracks – a five-week intensive job search boot camp, for those who need to refresh their job search skills, repackage themselves, and accelerate their job-seeking activities; a four-six month training program for those whose relevant experience can be reinvigorated with an in-demand technical skill like Salesforce Administration or Full Stack Web Development; and a longer-term (1-2 year) training program in fields like Network Security.
  • Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation – Matching Older Job Seekers to Jobs in Information Technology and Bioscience.  The project will focus on strong outreach to the unemployed as well as a central partnership with the AARP Foundation to reach out to individuals over 50 years of age through their BACK TO WORK 50+ initiative. AARP Foundation will offer co-branded marketing, a toll-free number, and a trained professional call center to reach older workers experiencing long-term unemployment or who have dropped out of the labor force. Individuals will be placed and retrained in information technology and bioscience fields working with employer partners like Assevero Security Consulting, Dunbar Cybersecurity, University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins University.
  • City of Denver – IT and Advanced Manufacturing. Denver’s program will focus on placing and training the unemployed in information technology and advanced manufacturing fields using a sector approach that convenes employers within these fields to co-design training programs. As an example employer partner, Lockheed Martin has committed to provide work-based learning opportunities, interview program participants for job openings, and hire qualified participants who complete the program. 
  • Philadelphia District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund for In-Demand Jobs in Community Health.  District 1199C, a well-established job training organization in Philadelphia, will add to its healthcare training program by establishing a new Community Health Worker Registered Apprenticeship with local employers including Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Nationwide Healthcare Services, and several local nursing homes. The new apprenticeship program will help to standardize the skills needed for community health care workers across a number of employers, making it clearer what individuals need to do to get these jobs. 

Progress on Best Practices to Recruit and Hire the Long-Term Unemployed

Lack of opportunities for long-term unemployed Americans is a missed opportunity for employers. The long-term unemployed have slightly higher education and experience than the short-term unemployed, yet evidence exists that they struggle to get a fair shot in the hiring process. Multiple studies show that long-term unemployed applicants are only half as likely to be considered for hiring compared to others with identical education and experience, even though evidence demonstrates that they perform just as well on the job. 

In January, the Administration engaged with America’s leading businesses to develop best practices for hiring and recruiting the long-term unemployed to ensure that these candidates receive a fair shot during the hiring process. Over 80 of the nation’s largest businesses have signed on, including 20 members of the Fortune 50, as well as over 200 small- and medium-sized businesses. Since then, many of them have made meaningful changes in recruiting practices.

Today, the Vice President, the Director of the National Economic Council, and the Secretary of Labor are meeting with the Chief Human Resource Officers of many of these companies. At the roundtable, participants will discuss the improvements their companies have made to their job advertising, screening of candidates, and hiring practices to eliminate barriers to hiring the long-term unemployed

  • Announcing Progress in Implementing Best Practices for Recruiting and Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed: Many employers who signed the Best Practices Pledge in January are reporting that applying these best practices has led to progress in opening doors to hire the long-term unemployed. Employers have done so through changing their hiring practices, working with local partners to train long-term unemployed job seekers, and supporting job seekers in accessing broad community support. These practices not only support unemployed Americans in getting back to work, but enable the employers implementing them to improve their talent pipelines.
    • Frontier adopts innovative video interviewing techniques. Frontier has hired over 250 long-term unemployed people since January 2014, representing about 20 percent of Frontier’s hires. The company was able to increase its hiring of long-term unemployed applicants by 17 percent after it began video interviewing, which helps to remove biases against the unemployed that may arise from relying on resumes alone.
    • Comcast pilots alternative hiring approaches. Comcast has been piloting a program that hires on a competency-based model for customer-facing roles.  The process now relies less on a resume, or recent work experience, and instead looks almost entirely at the behavioral attributes that will make someone successful in a role, which has opened up a wider talent pool.  As a result, Comcast has new hire classes with 10 percent of hires coming from the unemployed. The payoff is not only a more diverse pool of talented candidates, but also a closer fit on the interpersonal and life-skills that are critical to success but also don’t always show up directly on a resume or application.
    • KPMG launches extensive outreach to recruit long-term unemployed. Although the national unemployment rate is 3.4 percent in the accounting industry, through their outreach and recruiting efforts, KPMG was able to hire approximately 300 individuals from the long-term unemployed population, nearly 10 percent of their total hires for fiscal year 2014. 
    • True Blue partners with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future. True Blue, a large staffing provider, has hired 105 unemployed workers into full-time jobs in their Chicago recruiting center in partnership with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, a non-profit that obtains employer commitments to hire the long-term unemployed and finds qualified candidates.
  • Commitment of Leaders in Business Community to Spread Recruiting and Hiring Best Practices to Employers Nationwide, in Partnership with Non-Profits and Philanthropy.  Deloitte and the Rockefeller Foundation are announcing the first results of their work to capture those best practices in an easy-to-use tool for any employer’s HR department to implement companies’ practices, and a handbook for long-term unemployed job seekers to improve their job search success.  Businesses have begun to pilot these tools and practices and have committed to work together to share them with other employers.  Non-profits that touch millions of job seekers across the country have committed to make them available.

    These initial employer launch partners receive over 10 million job applications annually, and they will invite the business community to join them.

    • Employer Guide to Recruit and Hire Long-Term Unemployed. Rockefeller Foundation and Deloitte Consulting created their guide with the input of about 100 White House Best Practice signatories. Deloitte/Rockefeller’s Guide to Recruiting and Hiring the Long-Term Unemployed aims to provide a structured guide for companies to self-assess their current practices and practical tools to help employers at every level – from CEOs and Chief Human Resource Officers to recruiters and hiring managers – to tap into the full potential of job seekers who have been unemployed for 6 months or more.
    • Job Seeker Handbook.  Based on consultation with leading non-profits that are helping the unemployed get back to work, Deloitte/Rockefeller’s New Guide, New Destinations handbook has a set of interactive tools and workbooks that job seekers can use to search for jobs, understand and build on their strengths, explain their employment gaps, and refresh their skills during their period of unemployment.
    • Commitment to Spread Long-Term Unemployed Hiring Best Practices Nationwide. After piloting the use of these employer and job seeker handbooks in Minneapolis and Chicago, Deloitte, Rockefeller, and their initial employer launch partners – AT&T, Bank of America, CVS, Prudential, Sodexo, US Bank, and Wells Fargo – are making a commitment to work together with other engaged institutions to:
      • Assess and improve effectiveness of talent sourcing practices in identifying strong candidates regardless of employment status.
      • Work with talent channels that include the long-term unemployed.
      • Support growth of proven approaches to helping the long-term unemployed get back to work, such as non-profit employer partnerships, and effective American Job Center programs.
      • Contribute to job seekers’ understanding of how to navigate the job search process by providing feedback and coaching to applicants at multiple points in the recruiting and hiring process.
      • Share their success stories and best practices with peer companies including suppliers and customers.
    • Non-Profit Partnerships to Distribute Deloitte/Rockefeller Handbooks and Spread Best Practices.
      • AARP are adding elements of the handbook to its guide “7 Smart Strategies for Workers 50+” distributed to 5,000 older workers across the country and distribute the employer handbook through its online employer resource center.
      •  Goodwill will host a webinar for all its members on the handbooks and publicize them on its websites that have reach with over 30,000 job seekers.
      • Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, with support of the Aspen Institute's Skills for America's Future, is releasing a full toolkit of resources for organizations creating, incubating, or redefining an existing intermediary to a demand-driven business intermediary that matches training and hiring approaches for the long-term unemployed to local business needs. The playbook can be found at www.SCFplaybook.com

Policies to Ensure Federal Government Gives Long-Term Unemployed Jobseekers a Fair Shot 

In January, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum to ensure that individuals who are unemployed or have faced financial difficulties through no fault of their own receive fair treatment and consideration for employment by Federal agencies.   Federal agencies have already taken steps to review their recruiting and hiring practices accordingly. Today, as the Memorandum directed, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is issuing guidance to assist agencies in implementing the policy established in the Memorandum.  OPM’s guidance includes explanations and examples, as well as strategies for recruitment and ensuring that there are no undue obstacles during the hiring process. 

  • In addition, OPM created a “mythbuster” on federal hiring policies, making clear that people who have had gaps in employment and faced financial difficulties through no fault of their own will have a fair shot at obtaining Federal employment. The mythbuster will be linked to job postings on USAJOBS.
  • OPM is also providing agencies with model training and updated guidance on complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act when applicants’ credit reports are reviewed as part of agencies’ determination as to whether an applicant is suitable for employment.  

The Department of Labor has also issued guidance to the workforce system about non-discrimination obligations based on unemployment status and credit history, as well as a notice to the workforce system and employers about the Deloitte/Rockefeller Handbooks and other resources for helping the long-term unemployed return to work.