WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama announced Friday morning that 300 employers — including Xerox and General Motors — have pledged not to discriminate against the long-term unemployed in making hiring decisions.
Xerox CEO Ursula Burns has been involved in administration efforts to promote the pledge to companies since last May, when Gene Sperling, director of the White House National Economic Council, addressed an executive committee meeting of the Business Council. Burns heads the council's work and education initiative.
Efforts by the White House to sign up companies began in earnest in September. The list includes 21 of the nation's 50 largest employers and 47 members of the Fortune 200.
CVS Caremark, Darden Restaurants, Frontier, JP Morgan, Siemens USA and Time Warner are among the diverse group of employers that have made the pledge not to discard resumes simply because those job applicants have been out of work for an extended period.
"The response has been inspiring,'' Sperling told reporters Thursday.
The long-term unemployed often lose their health, their home and sometimes their spouse, and many never recover their earnings potential, Sperling said.
Seventy percent of the long-term unemployed are under age 50.
The University of Chicago, the University of Toronto and McGill University sent 12,000 fictitious resumes to online postings in 100 cities and found that people out of work for eight months received 50 percent fewer responses than applicants unemployed only a short time. Another study by MIT found a person unemployed for one month who sends out 10 resumes on average gets one interview, while a person with identical credentials who has been unemployed for seven months must send out 35 resumes to get one interview.
The White House hopes other employers sign on to the pledge.
"We consider this not the destination, but a launch,'' Sperling said.