Bad economy brings out good in people - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bad economy brings out good in people

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- For the second consecutive month Dubuque's unemployment rate has risen - from 5.9 percent to 6.5 percent.  But as unemployment rises, so do the number of people seeking volunteer opportunities.

As dozens of kids play at Cominsky Park in Dubuque Joe Reinoso is there to supervise -- and play too.   When Reinoso graduated from the University of Dubuque, he knew a job would be hard to come by.

"I went to a job expo at UD and just walked up to the booth and asked what AmeriCorps is," said Reinoso.  "And it was community service work taht jsut deals with kids and i was like 'it'll be a good experience."

He applied and accepted a position and is spending his summer here. 

"It's an opporutnity to experience something new," said Reinoso.  "I'm always down for something new. Always excited."

Jacqueline Astor is a senior at Loras College.  For her, this experience stands out. 

"I'm definately hoping that it will set me apart from other people and that's definately a goal."

Dubuque AmeriCorps director Penny Enlinger says she's seen a rise in applicants.

"I think the economy plays a big role in that because people aren't getting jobs that they're used to," said Enlinger.  "A lot of college grads aren't getting jobs."

She says many unemployed people are looking for meaningful work.  With placements in 14 Dubuque community schools, the library, multicultural center and the YMCA, Enlinger says many of these positions open the door.

"The biggest thing that I see members saying is that it really helped me figure out or discern what I wanna do with the rest of my life," said Enlinger.

And job or no job, these volunteers are getting a meaningful experience.  They'll take with them forever.

Oddly enough, as Dubuque's unemployment rate has risen, so have the number of available jobs. 

During the month of June Dubuque saw an additional 300 jobs added in the area.  Career experts say it's companies like Hormel and IBM that are bring the jobs.  They also account for the rise in unemployment to the recent graduates who have stayed in the area but not yet found employment.

From May to June, Cedar Rapids followed Dubuque with a jobless rate of 6 percent.  Waterloo's level was 5.6 percent and Iowa City had the lowest rate of the metro areas at 4.8 percent.

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