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States mull laws to stop bias against jobless

States and businesses are at loggerheads over a growing movement in statehouses for legislation that would ban discrimination against job-seekers who are unemployed.

More than a dozen states are mulling laws that would keep companies from running job ads that explicitly state they won't consider hiring someone who isn't already employed, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

But critics say the proposed legislation, which New Jersey has already passed, would be unwarranted government interference in private businesses. 

"Creating a protected class of people who bring lawsuits is just going to benefit the people who bring the lawsuits," Robert Topel, a labor economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, told the Journal.

But supporters say the legislation being considered by states from Connecticut to California is necessary to protect the long-term unemployed.

The unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in January. More than 40 percent of America's approximately 13 million unemployed have not worked for more than six months. Many economists say the longer someone is unemployed, the hard it is for him or her to find work.

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