"Just because you've been out of work for a while does not mean you aren't a hard worker," President Obama said.
That's part of the theme of the President's push to get the long-term unemployed back in the workforce. Obama has put a plan together identifying companies that will work with him on hiring those who have been on the sidelines for an extended period.
"Do not screen people out the hiring process just because they've been out of work for a long time," the President said. "We just went through the worst recession since the great depression."
Locally, the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce understands the importance of a strong workforce.
"Whether you're an existing business or a new business to a community, the workforce is the most important asset the community can provide," said Patt Lilly, chamber president and CEO. "Companies today need good workers and, in many cases, need highly-skilled workers."
Lilly says the chamber is involved with Hillyard Technical Center and other groups to get people the skills they need to work.
"The quickest way is to potentially find a job that may be available today," Lilly said. "Oftentimes, individuals, depending on how long they've been out of work, their age, need to go back and get additional training."
St. Joseph's current unemployment rate is 4.8 percent, among the lowest in the state. However, what unemployment statistics don't show are those who have given up even trying to look for work.
"Oftentimes there is that discussion about the long-term unemployed, the people who are no longer looking for jobs, and how in and of itself it weighs on the economy much more than most of us would realize by just looking at the unemployment number," said Lilly.
That's why the President has focused attention on the long-term unemployed.
"We really don't have an alternative, because giving up on the unemployed because they will cause a drag on our economy, that we can not tolerate," said the President.
The President announced he's secured agreements from more than 80 top U.S. businesses and more than 200 smaller ones to hire those who've long been out of work.
The President said the federal government will do the same.