One of the busiest offices in Des Moines lately is Iowa Workforce Development, which offers a wide range of services to help people find jobs. Spokeswoman Kerry Koonce says they offer classes on improving your interviewing skills, classes that fill up very quickly daily.
"Our traffic levels in our offices across the state have basically doubled," Koonce says. "There’s more people in need of all kinds of services whether it be filing unemployment, looking for new jobs, needing assistance with their resumes. Typically layoffs happen on a Friday, so Mondays and Tuesdays can be very heavy days."
Hundreds of laid-off Iowans show up at the Des Moines office daily, including many who are highly skilled. Ron Adcock has held jobs as a machine operator, a forklift driver and an inventory specialist. His position at a data management firm dried up a while back, and it’s been temp work ever since.
"I lost my last temporary job about two weeks ago," Adcock says. "Right now, I’m trying to get my unemployment situation straightened out. I would take a job, any job right now." Koonce says just as in past recessions, the manufacturing and construction industries have laid off the most workers, but nearly every industry has been hit and the cuts have been deep. They’re seeing people with 20 years of experience losing their jobs. Jill Twiss, of Des Moines, got laid off last December.
Twiss says, "I have a bachelor of fine arts degree in interior design. My last job was for a commercial construction company. I was project coordinator there. Since I can’t find a job, I’m kind of panicking because I’ve been unemployed for a long time now and I’ve been looking." She says she’s applied for everything, including what she’s qualified to do all the way to working at Blockbuster for eight bucks an hour.
Twiss says her unemployment benefits expired in June, but extended benefits from the federal government’s economic stimulus package are keeping her afloat. Twiss is looking into going back to school, which will extend the benefits even further.
While hundreds of educated professionals remain out of work, workforce experts say some employers are reaping the benefits of a big pool of talented unemployed. Dan Siegfried is a regional manager for Farmers Insurance in central Iowa and says the quality of their applicant pool has definitely gone up.
"We have agency ownership positions, customer sales representatives and sales positions," Siegfried says. "We’ve gotten better quality candidates and significantly more candidates for those positions."
Siegfried also seeks candidates to run their own insurance agencies. He says they’re getting some very well-qualified people who’ve been laid off from other jobs, who’re using the security of their severance packages to start their own businesses.