Area unemployment rate
THUMBS UP: The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development was in Marshall on Tuesday as part of its "summer road show" and presented some interesting - and encouraging - news, at least for this corner of the state. Although it's open for debate, DEED said southwest Minnesota is fortunate it hasn't been hit as hard financially as other areas of Minnesota. "The recession was not as deep here," DEED Commissioner Dan McElroy told an audience of about 50 city officials and economic developers from the area. While southwest Minnesota will continue to feel the effects of the state's budget situation, there is comfort in knowing that of the 18 Minnesota counties with the lowest unemployment rate, nine of those are in southwest Minnesota, including Lincoln, Lyon, Murray and Yellow Medicine.
Experience Works works
THUMBS UP: Another part of DEED's presentation Tuesday dealt with the challenge area counties are facing with an aging population. An analyst at the event said the 65-and-older age group will make up one-third of the population in the region by 2035. That number underscores the importance of job training of seniors 55 and up. On Thursday, the Independent highlighted Experience Works, a community-based organization that provides the necessary training to update skills and work with seniors on job placement. Seventy percent of Experience Works' clientele are between the ages of 55 and 65. Experience Works places these workers in non-profit or tax-supported agencies, which has proven to be a big help for those who need to get back into the workforce.
Wetterling back in the news
SIDEWAYS THUMBS: It's difficult to be sure of what to make of all that has been going on at the site where Jacob Wetterling was abducted nearly 21 years ago, so this could go either way, depending on one's viewpoint. It's good to know that investigators are still working hard on the case two decades after Wetterling's disappearance. It's good to know there might be a big break in the case that will bring closure to the Wetterling family. On the other hand, what if nothing comes of this week's search? What if investigators again come up empty? Does it only serve to exacerbate the family's rollercoaster ride of emotions that they've been on for so long? Is this setting the family up for a hard fall? It would help if authorities would say something, but apparently a court order is restricting them from providing any information on the case. Jacob's mother, Patty Wetterling, herself said Wednesday morning that she knows little about what exactly is going on at the site in St. Joseph where Jacob was abducted at gunpoint by a masked man in 1989. Keeping her kept in the dark doesn't make sense, and one can't help but wonder what kind of emotional toll this is taking on the family.