PhD’s unemployment research leads to White House visit

Rand Ghayad

Research con­ducted by North­eastern unem­ploy­ment expert Rand Ghayad helped per­suade a score of cor­po­rate chief exec­u­tives to attend a meeting at the White House on Friday to dis­cuss Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s new ini­tia­tive to combat long-​​term joblessness.

Every­body was saying they wouldn’t be here today if not for this research,” said Ghayad, a doc­toral can­di­date of eco­nomics who was invited to the meeting by Gene Sper­ling, the president’s national eco­nomics adviser. “I never thought my work would be so inter­esting to other people.”

In response to Ghayad’s studies and others like it, Obama has per­suaded more than 300 busi­nesses to sign a pledge to halt hiring prac­tices that dis­crim­i­nate against the long-​​term unem­ployed. Forty-​​seven of the country’s top 200 cor­po­ra­tions have agreed to the new poli­cies, including Apple, Wal-​​Mart, and Gen­eral Motors.

His new, though as-​​yet-​​unpublished, study builds on his ini­tial find­ings, sug­gesting that the long-​​term unem­ployed face dis­crim­i­na­tion in the labor market. Using the same set of 3,500 fic­ti­tious résumés, he found that recently unem­ployed appli­cants with no rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence were more likely to be invited for an inter­view than those with expe­ri­ence who have been unem­ployed for more than six months.