July 29, 2008

Kind Holds Listening Session on Economy

By KJ Lang, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 29--Whether economists call it a recession or not, times are tough.

"If you've been laid off or find your skills are not needed in the marketplace, it is a recession for you," said Bill Brockmiller, labor market analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. People shared concerns about the economy and other issues Monday at a listening session hosted by Rep. Ron Kind at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Because of the diversity of industry here, the La Crosse metro area has weathered the economic downturn better than the rest of the nation, Brockmiller said.

La Crosse's 4.6 percent unemployment rate for June is up only two-tenths of a percent more than the same month last year.

Jerry Hanoski, executive director of Workforce Connections, said federal cuts have left the organization with less money to help workers when they lose their jobs.

The organization, which covers eight counties in western Wisconsin, has lost 54 percent of its federal funding in the past six years and closed six of its eight job centers.

Hanoski wondered about the future of the workforce with a lack of skilled workers and where workforce development falls in the area's priorities.

Kind said there should be more focus on job skill development for students.

"This needs to be a higher priority," he said.

KJ Lang can be reached at (608) 791-8226 or [email protected]


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