Unemployed Americans complain of discrimination when looking for work

April 2nd, 2011 - 3:47 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 2 (ANI): A survey has found that unemployed Americans are having a tough time re-entering the job market, with most complaining that they face discrimination.

Researchers from UCLA and the State University of New York-Stony Brook found that the discrimination was not related to their skills sets or to the conditions of departure from their previous jobs.

“We were surprised to find that, all things being equal, unemployed applicants were viewed as less competent, warm and hireable than employed individuals,” lead researcher Geoffrey Ho, a doctoral student in human resources and organizational behaviour at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, said.

“We were also surprised to see how little the terms of departure mattered. Job candidates who said they voluntarily left a position faced the same stigma as job candidates who said they had been laid off or terminated,” he stated.

With a special emphasis on the psychological impact of being out of work, the conference, ‘Reconnecting to Work: Consequences of Long-Term Unemployment and Prospects for Job Creation’, will bring together Ho and 31 other researchers on labour and unemployment.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the psychological stigma of unemployment,” Margaret Shih, a co-author on the study with Ho and an associate professor of human resources and organizational behaviour at UCLA Anderson, said.

“We found that individuals tend to make negative associations with those who are unemployed, which often leads to unfair discrimination,” she stated.

Researchers have long known of the existence of a bias against the unemployed, said the study authors, who also include Todd L. Pittinsky, an associate professor of technology and society at Stony Brook, and Daniel Walters, a UCLA Anderson M.B.A. student.

In fact, economists have determined that the longer individuals remain unemployed, the lower their chances of finding work.

But until now, the situation has been attributed to legitimate concerns over the unemployed worker’s skills set or a lack of persistence in looking for work.

“Economists have tended to chalk up long-term unemployment to the probability of skill decay or discouragement, or employers’ perceptions of skill decay,” Shih said.

“But we’re finding that when there’s no evidence that skills have deteriorated, out-of-work job applicants are still at a disadvantage.

“The stigma may help explain why the unemployed may have systematically lower chances of reconnecting to work,” she added. (ANI)

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