Tight Job Market Aids Applicants Once Shunned

What will Wieber's excuse for his continued lack of employment be now?
A rapidly tightening labor market is forcing companies across the
country to consider workers they once would have turned away. That is providing opportunities to people who have long faced barriers to employment, such as criminal records, disabilities or prolonged bouts of joblessness.
In Dane County, Wis., where the unemployment rate was just 2 percent in November, demand for workers has grown so intense that manufacturers are taking their recruiting a step further: hiring inmates at full wages to work in factories even while they serve their prison sentences. These companies were not part of traditional work-release programs that are far less generous and rarely lead to jobs after release.
?When the unemployment rate is high, you can afford to not hire anyone who has a criminal record, you can afford to not hire someone who?s been out of work for two years,? said Lawrence H. Summers, the Harvard economist and former Treasury secretary. ?When the unemployment rate is lower, employers will adapt to people rather than asking people to adapt to them.?
The American economy hasn?t experienced this kind of fierce competition for workers since the late 1990s and early 2000s, the last time the unemployment rate ? currently 4.1 percent ? was this low.
Wieber doesn't have a job six months from now, a year from now, he still won't have a job.
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