Rangel Wants to Replicate Obama Plan for Long-Term Unemployed Uptown

By Jeff Mays on March 6, 2014 10:56am 

 U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has tapped some of the largest employers in Upper Manhattan to sign on to an initiative to help the long-term unemployed find work.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel has tapped some of the largest employers in Upper Manhattan to sign on to an initiative to help the long-term unemployed find work.
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

HARLEM — Rep. Charles Rangel has tapped some of the largest employers in Upper Manhattan to help the long-term unemployed find work.

Rangel said he was inspired by President Barack Obama, who announced during his State of the Union address earlier this year that some of the country's largest employers had signed agreements that they would not discriminate against the long-term unemployed when it came to hiring.

A recent study by researchers at Yale University, the University of Chicago and the University of Toronto found that employers called back 7 percent of workers who had been unemployed for a month in a batch of 12,000 fictitious resumes they sent out to companies. After eight months, the callback rate dipped to 4 percent.

There are approximately 4 million Americans who have been unemployed for six months or longer, the highest number since the Great Depression, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About 300 companies such as Apple, Morgan Stanley and eBay have signed on to Obama's agreement and have pledged to do things such as revise their recruitment practices and employment advertising to make sure they aren't discriminating against the long-term unemployed.

Rangel said he wanted to do something similar on the local level.

Participants in the 30-minute teleconference call Tuesday evening with Rangel included Columbia University, Carver Federal Savings Bank, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Popular Community Bank.

"Through public and private sector leadership, we can ensure job applicants who have been out of work for [a] long time are not unfairly screened out. This is a win-win for New Yorkers who deserve a fair shot, and it doesn't cost taxpayers a dime," Rangel said.

The assembled group also included entities closely associated with Rangel such as the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce and the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone.

The companies and organizations on the conference call agreed to form a coalition of social service groups and employers to work together to create jobs for the long-term unemployed.

"Hardworking, able New Yorkers deserve the opportunity to get back to work," said Phil Weinberg, CEO of STRIVE, an East Harlem workforce development group.

The group's specific plans were not revealed.

The areas that Rangel represents in the 13th congressional district — parts of Harlem, Washington Heights and The Bronx — have among the highest unemployment rates in the city, according to a 2009 study by the Fiscal Policy Institute.

Rangel, 83, who is seeking a 23rd term in Congress, has said one of the reasons he wants to extend his tenure is to work with Obama on issues such as long-term unemployment.

Rangel faces a June primary challenge from The Rev. Michael Walrond and state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who have both criticized him for not having creative solutions to help the struggling residents of the district.

“Helping out the long-term unemployed is a critical issue for the people of my district, and I plan to do everything in my power to ensure men and women have the opportunity to get back to work,” Rangel said in a statement.

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