The Labor Department has teamed up with a popular friend to help close the unemployment gap.
On Thursday, Secretary Hilda Solis announced at a news conference the launch of the Social Jobs Partnership, created to connect employers and job seekers on a new Facebook page. The National Association of State Workforce Agencies, the National Association of Colleges and Employers and DirectEmployers Association are also involved in the initiative.
According to Solis, there are about three million job openings in the U.S, and about 14 million unemployed workers. The public-private partnership will provide resources from the Labor Department and partnering nonprofit organizations, including job listings and job search services, as well as training programs and educational opportunities to learn new job skills. Visitors can access the information by clicking on the “like” button.
The site already had more than 900 new “friends” by the end of the news conference.
"By leveraging the power of the social Web, this initiative will provide immediate, meaningful and ready-to-use information for job seekers and employers, and a modern platform to better connect them," Solis said. "At DOL, we have the content to engage, assist and connect unemployed Americans with employers. At Facebook, they have the audience — the people plugged into, on a large scale, on the World Wide Web."
Marne Levine, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, said that 92 percent of employers will use social networks to recruit workers. She likened the initiative to a “free online job fair” that can be accessed 24/7. Levine also said that the company will make public service announcements about local job resources in the ten states with the highest unemployment rates, as well as Puerto Rico.
Solis said that she hopes to work with other social media networks to help job seekers.
"This is just the beginning, folks. Going forward, we will reach out to other leaders in the social networking arena, from Twitter to LinkedIn to the next big thing on the social media horizon," Solis said.
The number of people applying for unemployment benefits declined slightly last week, the Associated Press reports, but the jobless rate has remained at 9.1 percent for three months.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)