Labor Day: time off for some is unwanted - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Labor Day: time off for some is unwanted


You may enjoy Labor Day by not working, as government offices and many businesses are closed.  But with a national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent—for many, having Labor Day off is not by choice.

Here in Iowa, there are more than 100,000 people who are unemployed and thousands more are considered under-employed, struggling to find a job that pays enough to get by.  That keeps beds at area shelters full and shelter staff busy trying to help people find work.

Bruce Smith enjoyed a Labor Day barbecue with friends and volunteers at the Cedar Valley Hospitality House in Waterloo.  Smith has spent a lot of time at the house recently, as he's struggled to find a job and place to live.  He's just grateful for the support the Hospitality House and one of its directors, Joni Hansen, have offered to help him.

"This is awesome.  I can't hold back, can't thank Joni enough.  She's been great and helped a lot," Smith said.

Smith recently landed a part-time job.  But he's still in transitional housing after being released from jail.

"I'm trying to find a place to live and that's all it takes to get out of that place is to find an apartment.  But everything's six to seven hundred dollars almost," said Smith.

He can't afford that price tag, since that's the most he makes in an entire month.  Sadly, Smith's situation isn't unique.  In fact, since opening just a year-and-a-half ago, the Cedar Valley Hospitality House has seen a steady increase in demand for its services.

These people are looking for jobs.  They're very lucky if they can find something, many of them through temporary agencies.  And of course those aren't jobs that last forever," said Joni Hansen with the Hospitality House.

The Hospitality House is just glad it can provide some help to those in need, with a phone and computer for job searching, along with daily lunch meals.  It hopes that those in the community fortunate enough to have a job will pay it forward, supporting services like it that can help provide the unemployed with tools that just might help them get back on their feet.

The Hospitality House says there are two obstacles that often make it tough for people to find and keep a job.  First, it's tough for them to have transportation to get to and from work.  The second issue is scheduling.  If someone is living in a shelter, it's tough to take a night shift job since shelters will often require you to be in for the evening by 9:30 p.m.

If you are looking for work, you might find some help at the "Hot Jobs Career Fair" sponsored by Hawkeye Community College.  It's set for this Wednesday, September 7, from 3-7 p.m. at the River Loop Expo in downtown Waterloo.

And if you'd like to help the Hospitality House provide services to those in need, donations can be mailed to:  P.O. Box 1505, Waterloo IA 50704.

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