Yes, the economy has improved, and we are all very happy about that. But there is a population of job seekers — the long-term unemployed, or those looking for work 27 weeks or longer — who are still having great difficulty getting back to work. In fact, for older workers, who make up at least half of the long-term unemployed numbers, the average duration of unemployment is going in the wrong direction — up to 54.3 weeks, as compared with 45.8 weeks a year ago, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute.
Two laws before the Legislature, if passed, would help. The first would regulate the use of credit reports by employers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if you are out of work for many months, you are going to purchase things on credit. However, in so many companies, credit scores are used to make hiring decisions even though they don’t predict job performance.
The other proposed measure would ensure that employers provide fair chances for employment. Many employers are excluding job seekers from consideration based solely on their unemployment status. This is preventing many highly qualified job applicants from receiving a fair shot.
Bravo to Senator Mike Barrett, Democrat of Lexington, for championing these two bills. Now it is time for legislators to make them law and help get our long-term unemployed job seekers back to work.