Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT — The Burlington Workforce Development office has started an initiative to get people working again.
The initiative is spurred by the belief that many unemployed workers are choosing not to look for work because of expanded unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 federal funding.
Henry County Supervisor Chad White talked Thursday about a recent meeting he had with the Burlington office.
According to White, all regions in the Burlington office coverage area are experiencing labor shortages and many, including Gov. Kim Reynolds, attribute that labor shortage to unemployment benefits and stimulus packages.
So Workforce Development is on a mission to help get workers in the Mississippi Valley Area back to work.
According to White, the Mississippi Valley area counties will be receiving around 36% of the state’s funding from the American Rescue Plan. That includes sixteen southeast Iowa counties including Des Moines, Henry, Louisa, Lee and a few others.
White said that many counties asked for more control over the money from the state workforce leadership.
“Trying to get into the thought process that this region can spend that money better than somewhere like Des Moines. I’ve heard that before in other things, and maybe serve as a pass through for some of the money,” White said.
Another issue that relates to labor shortage, according to White, is a housing shortage in area counties that makes it harder for workers to come to the area.
The Burlington office is brainstorming ideas to use this money to help get Iowans back to work. Plans call for the Workforce leadership to send a letter to area counties and ask for ideas on spending the money.
White said Reynolds was given accolades in the Workforce Development meeting for stopping extra unemployment benefits and extra money being given to Iowa residents due to the pandemic earlier this year.