After the Great Recession began back in 2008, many folks who lost their jobs have never been able to find new ones.

The number of long-term unemployed people in Jersey and across the country – who have been looking for work for more than 6 months – has consistently topped 40 percent since 2009.

New Jersey is the first state in the nation to pass legislation that bans discrimination of the long-term unemployed who are seeking job opportunities – but many experts believe the problem still exists here.

Lewis Maltby, President of the National Workrights Institute in Princeton, says “not hiring people because they’ve been unemployed for a long time is really unfair and totally crazy – but I could see why some employers would do it -employers are very risk averse – the worst thing you can do is hire an employee who doesn’t work out – so they could be thinking – maybe the reason this person has been unemployed for a year because they’re not a very good employee – maybe that’s why they haven’t gotten a job yet.”

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He says they’ll decide “let’s play it safe and hire the guy who’s only been out of work for a month- that’s the kind of thinking that goes on…it’s completely unfair – what could be more unfair than saying – you’re out of work so you need to get a job- but you can’t get a job because you’re out of work – it’s the ultimate catch 22.”

Maltby adds if an employer looks at somebody’s work record and doesn’t think they’ve been a very good employee in the past – they shouldn’t have to hire them, “but you shouldn’t refuse to hire somebody just because they’ve been unemployed for a long time- if you’re a good employer, do your homework and evaluate the person’s past performance and make a decision.”

He also points out “there’s no way of knowing how often it happens because it’s not an official company policy- no company is going to pass an official policy that says we won’t hire anybody who been unemployed for a year – it’s just going to be something they’re going to do without talking about it.”

More than a other dozen states – from Connecticut to California – are now considering anti-bias unemployment legislation similar to the law now in effect in the Garden state.