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Abstract

Since the onset of the latest United States (U.S.) recession (beginning in December 2007), the U.S. economy has been posting high unemployment levels consistently exceeding 8 percent. Of specific interest, the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports on a specific subset of the U.S. unemployed: the long-term unemployed, defined as those who are unemployed for 27 weeks and over. Since December 2009, the share of the long-term unemployed of the total U.S. unemployed has exceeded 40 percent (through April 2012), the highest level since 1948 when data was first collected. A phenomenon of this recession is an alleged public bias by American private sector employers against hiring the long-term unemployed, or even simply those unemployed. While the authors support the removal of discrimination against the unemployed in job advertisements, they cannot support the larger notion of including those who are unemployed as a protected class of employees. Becoming or being unemployed is a state that one can change, and based on the lack of research on how widespread this discrimination is (beyond anecdotal stories or limited research surveys), they believe that extending protection under equal employment opportunity legislation would be overreaching and inappropriate at this time.