Hope, despite state unemployment numbers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hope, despite state unemployment numbers

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OLWEIN (KWWL) -- One Iowa employment organization is hopeful about the future of the state's workforce.

In a test vote Wednesday in the U.S. senate, lawmakers voted to reject a bill that would, among other things, extend federal unemployment benefits.

Senate Democrats have returned to the drawing board to try and pass a scaled-back bill later this week.

Every Senate Republican and a dozen Democrats voted against the bill. Many cited concerns about increasing borrowing, spending and debt in a budget-tight time.

This, of course, affects unemployed eastern Iowans.

"I do think there is a little light at the end of the tunnel," Oelwein WorkForce Development Center advisor Sandy Magsamen said. "I think we went through some very difficult times here in the last year-and-a-half to two years."

Magsamen has worked for Iowa workforce development for more than two decades.

"I've seen more federal extensions in the last year-and-a-half than I have in the total 22 years."

For that, she cites the economy - but an economy she said she thinks is taking a turn for the better.

"If somebody wants to work bad enough, I think if they go out there and hit the pavement running, I think they will find a job," Magsamen said. "It might not be like the job that they left, but, you know, there are jobs out there."

"We're seeing many employers who are really starting to re-hire, so that's good news for us," Iowa WorkForce Development director Elisabeth Buck said.

Those still looking for employment in Iowa hit a road bump earlier this week, when a glitch in the computer system caused some delays.

"We saw, unfortunately, some longer lines on Monday and Tuesday this week," Buck said, "but all the claims were processed."

Buck said the 30-year-old computer system is supposed to be getting an upgrade this fall.

"We have some funds available from the federal government to redesign and make it a better Web claim system," Buck said.

However, she also said that could take a couple years to get fully up and running.

In the meantime, some Iowans are running out of unemployment benefits.

"Until there are enough jobs for everyone, we really need these benefits for folks," Buck said.

But Magsamen said she doesn't think all is bleak.

"I have to hang on to that little bit of hope," Magsamen said.

It's her hope for jobs for Iowa's unemployed.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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