Madison (WKOW) -- As the number of the unemployed reaches levels not seen in nearly two decades nationally, Wisconsin continues to hold its own as the jobless figures mount.
But labor market experts say dislocated workers must adapt, retrain, and reposition themselves on the career ladder to keep up with the new economy and the long term future.
State officials say while the number of new unemployment insurance benefit claims this week was actually down about 6,000 from the same time a year ago, people in the system and already receiving benefits is up by 25,000 year-to-date. Officials say benefits will not be affected by the surge, since the state's supporting fund is strong and borrowing from the federal government next spring is an option.
Benefits only go so far in sustaining people out of work. One of the people in the pool of Wisconsin's job seekers, Les Kurabelis of Madison, says he remains confident, despite beginning to exhaust his reserves for essentials: food, housing, health care and transportation.
Kurabelis, 26, says he's also trying to escape a cycle of low wage jobs. "The biggest problem is the rate of pay. The jobs I've gotten were between $6.50 per hour and $8 per hour. It's hard to pay bills with."
Madison Area Technical College learner development executive dean Keith Cornille tells 27 News dislocated workers must resist the urge to invest all their efforts at maintaining limited opportunity jobs, and instead schedule time to assess their skills, and plan their career strategy more long term.
Cornille identifies four professional fields which remain "hot" in Wisconsin: information technology; construction-type trades; industrial maintenace connected to solar heat infrastructure and other growing energy alternatives; and the medical field. "People should think about things like occupational therapy and respiratory therapy."
"Electronics; automotive; heating and air conditioning: those are things that aren't going to go away. You can't outsource those, you can't ship them across the seas."
Kurabelis says he's got a good job possibility with a Madison firm which is expanding into commercial space on the city's east side. If he lands the work, Kurabelis says its likely he'll receive some specialized training.
The training? Medical procedure protocol.