Wisconsin News

We the People: Employment

VIROQUA, Wis. -- Promises of job creation are coming from just about every candidate this election year, but what really are the keys to getting people back to work and the job market stable again?

We continue our series of reports with the "We the People" project, taking a closer look at the big issues leading up to the election through the eyes of people from diverse backgrounds around the state.

News 8 is following Palmer Hoffland of Viroqua.

In his 44 years of employment, most of those spent as a bank president, the 71 year old Hoffland was never fearful of losing his job. He knows that isn't the case for many people today as the country continues to recover from one of the worst recessions in history.

However, Palmer isn't convinced the politicians are the ones who will get the job market back on its feet.

Even though Palmer has been retired for the past four years, "yeah, I don't have many things I do that make money," he says jokingly, he's still a classified ad junkie. "It seems there's an awful lot of jobs available, I don't know what that tells me, is there an increase in need or just not the people to fill them."

The latter is something that's becoming more and more of a concern for the job market. Experts call it the workforce paradox. High unemployment, but companies have jobs available and no skilled workers to fill them. "These skilled jobs, the electricians, the plumbers and the carpenters, they're good paying jobs and there seems to be a real demand for them, they don't have quite the glamor of a job that requires a college education," said Palmer.

While 50 years ago Palmer found value in a college education for himself, he's not so sure it's for everyone today. "I think a lot of times there's been too much emphasis on getting a college education, that's good and I would recommend anybody do it that's got the money and the time, but we also see the high school debt."

Palmer is especially concerned what the future holds for his 5 grand kids. What will they be faced with when it's time to get a job? "Education is going to be really important in people securing jobs.  the high school degree is a must, anyone who doesn't finishing high school is so far behind the 8 ball."

And while politicians from both sides of the aisle are making promises this election year to create jobs, at least in the near future, Palmer isn't buying any of it. "I don't have much reliance on the fact that we will now have jobs created because some politician said he would do that.  If he could explain that, it would be more believable at least. I don't really think they have an idea.  I think they're crossing their fingers and hoping the economy will get better."


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