Workforce Centers Closed Under Shutdown
As the state's unemployment rate hovers just under 200,000, state-run job centers closed their doors.
Anita Harris walks to the South Minneapolis Workforce Center at 777 East Lake Street almost every weekday. Since the tornado in North Minneapolis forced Harris and her three children to seek refuge in a nearby shelter, she's used the center's computers to do everything from register her kids at school to arranging transportation.
Lawmakers weren't able to come to a budget agreement with the governor, so all 49 state-run workforce centers, including two of the state's largest in Minneapolis, will be closed for the duration of the government shutdown.
"That would make my life harder," Harris said. The kids "are just getting over the nightmares from a tornado, just getting comfortable, so this is a comfortable place to sit down and have our time on the computer."
The Minneapolis workforce center together serve between 500-1,000 people a day. In all of Minnesota, workforce centers serve an estimated 20,000 people every day.
The Minneapolis workforce centers were already making preparations for the shutdown on Thursday afternoon, said Kathy Carney, workforce development operations manager for Minneapolis.
The centers provide job classes, resume help, one-on-one counseling and even an office stocked with equipment and supplies for job-seekers, none of which would be available in shutdown.
Members of the general public might be able to access some resources elsewhere, Carney said, but others who need more direct assistance might be left hanging in a shutdown: "I just was talking to one of my counselors who's working with a man who has a disability, she said he just feels so nervous and apprehensive and keeps asking, 'Why aren't you going to be here?' 'When are you coming back?'"
People looking to use the state employment services won't be the only ones impacted. Carney said 50-60 employees at each Minneapolis workforce center will be furloughed, including some who depend on the single paycheck to make ends meet.
Just under 200,000 Minnesota are still officially unemployed, according to recent state figures. The services offered by workforce centers are a big help, said St. Louis Park resident Kelly Johnson.
"A lot of people definitely need support with getting their resumes done, losing their jobs at an older age especially, and needing help but not knowing how to get on the computer," Johnson said.
Johnson has been unemployed in what she what she described as this "really, really bad economy" since January.
"It would definitely be bad [if the center shuts down]", said Johnson the day before the shutdown. "The whole situation with the government shutting down is terrible—there are a lot of people who depend on it."