Welfare numbers increasing
If the federal stimulus package is working it may be difficult to find signs of economic recovery locally.
In June, the unemployment rates for Faribault and Martin counties were 9.1 and 7.6 percent, respectively. That compares to 5.6 and 4.7 percent a year ago.
As a result, more people have been turning to public assistance for help.
Juanita Krull, income maintenance program manager for Human Services in both counties, says the number of applications the past three months have really accelerated.
For example, this past June there were 298 — 97 more than a year ago.
“It’s been a steady increase. Generally, the rate is slower and not as fast,” Krull says. “It’s overloading our financial workers more than in the past.”
During the first six months of 2009 there was a total of 1,537 applications, 220 more than the same period last year.
Actual active caseload numbers for the 15 workers has seen an 8.6 percent hike — from 2,861 in June 2008 to 3,094 for June 2009.
“When others are cutting back and laying off people, our business is increasing,” Krull says.
Figures show across-the-board increases for food stamps, cash programs and medical assistance.
Local companies cutting their workforce has added to more people seeking aid.
Krull says there was an influx of calls when Nortech Aerospace Systems announced in July that 108 employees in Fairmont and Blue Earth were losing their jobs.
“Even though their income or hours have decreased, many of them are still above income standards,” she says.
For more of this story, see this week’s Register