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County unemployment drops, hiring continues

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By Special to The Sun

Just as many prepare to enjoy a well-deserved Labor Day holiday, area job opportunities are growing.

Unemployment figures are improving throughout most of Kentucky and workforce development professionals are optimistic that trend will continue.

In Washington County, the unemployment rate dropped to 7 percent in July, compared to 8.7 percent in July 2013, the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training reported last week.

“Many employers are hiring, especially the manufacturers” said Terri Thomas, of the Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail in Lebanon, which serves Washington County.

The Kentucky Career Center – Lincoln Trail offers free services to job seekers and employers, including customized hiring events and career counseling.

Olivia Thompson, of Springfield, first used career center services to land a summer job at the Springfield-Washington County Chamber of Commerce between semesters at St. Catharine College. The temporary administrative work led to a permanent part-time position as executive director of the chamber.

“It’s because of them I have the connections that are going to lead me to a full-time job,” Thompson said.

Career center staff also determined Thompson was eligible for Workforce Investment Act funding for tuition for the last two years of her bachelor’s degree. After graduation, she plans to teach middle school math.

“It worked out great, and in my hometown,” she said.

The career center is a resource for job seekers in all fields, but there is noteworthy activity in the manufacturing sector.

Manufacturing is by far the leading industry sector in Washington County, accounting for about 31 percent of all non-farm jobs according to the Community and Economic Development Initiative of Kentucky.

Growth is expected in the sector. In fact, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority late last month approved tax incentives for INOAC North America in Springfield for an expansion project that would lead to as many as 86 new jobs.

Job seekers can find out more about job openings, training opportunities and labor market information by calling the Kentucky Career Centers – Lincoln Trail in Lebanon at (270) 692-6870.

“Because we work closely with businesses throughout Washington and neighboring counties, we can provide job seekers the latest information about who is hiring and what skills are in demand,” Thomas said. “We’re here to be their link to employers.”