When the job search fails, some Midwesterners hit the books

February 5, 2009

If you are out of work and considering going back to school, you aren't the only one.

According to this Wall Street Journal article, Midwesterners--particularly those formerly employed by the auto and machine-tool industries--are drawn increasingly to community colleges where they can be retrained for new jobs.

But abandoning the job hunt and going to school is not an easy decision. In addition to costs associated with not working and paying for classes, there is no guarantee of an offer at the end of the retraining process. Many businesses are shedding, not adding, jobs and that means newly trained employment seekers are competing against more experienced workers who were laid off.

The article concentrates on the employment situation in Rockford, which has a population of about 150,000 people. Once a national leader in manufacturing and industry, Rockford now has the highest unemployment in Illinois: 12.5 percent in December, up from 7.1 percent a year earlier. Currently, 19 percent of residents have at least a four-year college degree, compared with the national average of 27 perecent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.