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Obama: Discrimination Against Jobless 'Makes Absolutely No Sense'

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AP

President Obama said during a Tuesday radio show that hiring discrimination against the jobless "makes absolutely no sense" and that he supports legislation to ban the practice.

Sybil Wilkes, a co-host of the "Tom Joyner Morning Show," asked the president about long-term unemployment and businesses that tell applicants, "If you're unemployed, we don't want to hear from you."

Obama noted that the long-term unemployed have a tougher time landing jobs and said a stronger overall economy would make employers less choosy. "But we have seen instances in which employers are explicitly saying we don't want to take a look at folks who've been unemployed," the president said.

"Well, that makes absolutely no sense, and I know there's legislation that I'm supportive of that says you cannot discriminate against folks because they've been unemployed, particularly when you've seen so many folks who, through no fault of their own, ended up being laid off because of the difficulty of this recession."

Since 2010, job postings that specify applicants "must be currently employed" have been easy to spot on sites like Monster.com and Craigslist.org. Labor advocates have worried the discrimination could shut workers out of the labor force and worsen the economy.

The postings aren't illegal because employment isn't a protected class like race or sex, but Democrats in Congress have introduced legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against people who don't have jobs. State lawmakers in New Jersey have already made it illegal to post ads with the anti-jobless language in that state.

HuffPost contacted more than 30 businesses that said "unemployed need not apply" in their ads. Most businesses that make hiring decisions disavowed the ads, but staffing firms that recruit workers claimed their clients only want the currently employed.

Worker advocates haven't had much luck with their petition to get Monster.com to quit allowing businesses to post ads that discourage the unemployed from sending their resumes.