Eight-hundred and one unemployed Hamilton County workers are currently taking advantage of assistance from Iowa Workforce Development, according to Doug Bailey, a Hamilton County supervisor and a member of the Region V Regional Workforce Investment Board,
"Workforce Development figures show that currently there are 651 unemployed people attending school or training, and another 150 who are not in school, but who are interacting with Workforce Development programming in trying to locate a new job," he said.
Those 801 people are actively involved with the Webster City and Fort Dodge Workforce Development offices, he said.
Hamilton County has the distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the state, Bailey said, topping the list at 9.7 percent.
"Actually in December, Hamilton County was at 9.3 percent, and in January, which is the most current figure available, we rose to 9.7 percent," Bailey said. Lee County in the far southeastern tip of Iowa had an unemployment rate of 9.2, and Allamakee County had a rate of 9.0 percent in January 2012. According to Workforce Development information, Hamilton County was the only county to experience an increase in unemployment from January 2011 to January 2012.
Overall, Iowa's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 5.4 percent in January, according to IWD. The statewide jobless rate was reported at 5.6 percent in December, and at 6.1 percent in January 2011. Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January 2012, according to IWD figures.
Bailey said he was encouraged to see so many of those laid off from Electrolux attending school and taking advantage of job retraining.
"I can't help but think it will be beneficial to them in finding new positions," he said. "My concern, which is shared by many, is will there be some jobs available locally once they are finished with their education."
Bailey said that while Electrolux was still in operation here, the area didn't have the workforce to attract another medium to large employer to the area.
"We had such a low unemployment rate then," he said. "But now we have a potentially well-trained workforce. But if the jobs aren't here when they complete their education, we may start to lose those folks."