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Now Hiring: Unemployed Need Not Apply

By aaroncynic in News on Sep 7, 2011 1:30PM

Unemployed Men, 1914

With last month's unemployment report showing a net total of zero jobs created, one might think it couldn't get much more grim for the unemployed. However, the Tribune reported yesterday on yet another hurdle in finding gainful employment in today's economy - current employment as a job qualifier.

According to the Trib, some companies are adding language in job postings that in order to qualify, applicants must be currently employed.

Technically, such a practice wouldn't be discriminatory, since the unemployed aren't a protected class of people. It is however, as Rex Huppke pointed out, both shortsighted and counterproductive. The idea that an unemployed person somehow has more shortcomings than someone currently employed has always been questionable, but in today's economy, it simply doesn't make sense. With plenty of companies announcing mass layoffs, a period of unemployment - sometimes even a lengthy one- is becoming more common for the average worker.

Several states, including Illinois, are looking into legislative measures to bar such a practice. Senators Kimberly Lightford and Annazette Collins co-sponsored the “Employment Advertisement Fairness Act,” which would prohibit an employer from publishing an ad “indicating that current employment is a job qualification or that an applicant who is not employed will not be considered,” with a $5,000 penalty attached. Similar measures have also been introduced on the federal level.

Such legislation would be a welcome sign to plenty of already struggling job seekers. Getting Americans back to work is the only way our rapidly sinking economy will stay afloat. Adding more barriers to finding employment would only sink the ship faster.