By Vicki Needham - 01/31/14 06:45 PM EST
As President Obama presses companies to hire the long-term unemployed get back to work, a new report details several ways that could help solve the nagging problem.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) laid out nine policies that the group argues could lead to new jobs for those who have been out of work for least six months.
About 38 percent of all unemployed workers have been out of work for at least six months.
There are 3.9 million unemployed for longer than 26 weeks and 2.6 million who have been struggling to find work for at least a year.
Renewing a federal unemployment insurance program, which provided up to 73 weeks of benefits while those workers looked for a job, is on the top of NELP's list.
The program expired more than a month ago leaving 1.3 million without a weekly check. Democrats argue that number has grown to 1.6 million in the weeks since the program expired.
A group of Senate Republicans and Democrats are still trying to reach an agreement on a bill that would restore those benefits for, at least, three months.
The president has specifically asked the nation's top CEOs to end discrimination against the long-term unemployed in their hiring and recruiting policies.
“We need to put a stop to this perverse catch-22 that says that job-seekers need to have a job in order to get a job,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the NELP.
"This discriminatory practice is debilitating to workers, lazy and counterproductive as a human resource policy, and bad for our economy, especially when long-term joblessness is one of the toughest problems facing our economy today."
The NELP report calls on the federal government to take the lead on hiring those who have been out of work for long periods.
It urges the president to issue an executive order that would require federal agencies and contractors to adhere to hiring practices outlined in the Fair Employment Opportunity Act, which was included in the president’s own American Jobs Act legislation several years ago.
The anti-discrimination bill was reintroduced this week by several House and Senate Democrats.
The report calls for implementing policies that would provide financial incentives to encourage businesses to hire disadvantaged and long-term unemployed workers and bolstering existing volunteer programs such as the AmeriCorps.
All told, 300 companies have signed on to the initiative that will prohibit human resource departments from screening against workers who have been unemployed for more than six months, according to the White House.
White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said he and Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett personally reached out to many of the corporate leaders signing on to the pact.