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THIS WEEK: The difficult job to create jobs in Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds says er tax cuts and other incentives are designed to spur job growth in the state

DAVENPORT, Iowa — The pandemic has pushed people out of jobs.

Now, Iowa is pushing back.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is calling for a cut in unemployment benefits from six months to 16 weeks.

"There is dignity in work, it gives us meaning an purpose," she told lawmakers during her "Condition of the State" address.

"So when it's degraded, when idleness is rewarded with enhanced unemployment and stimulus checks, when work begins to seem optional rather than fundamental, then Society begins to decay."

She says the safety net has become a hammock.

"We really have to take a look at the system in Iowa and we need to lead on this," the governor said during a one-on-one interview on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

Among other things, the Governor is proposing a state bureau she said will focus on employment, not unemployment.

"Whose sole focus will be helping them do the resume, get the skills, match them up with the jobs, one-on-one career coaching from Day 1."  

You can listen to our entire interview with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on THE CITIES PODCAST.

The problems with filling open positions is a recurring theme when it comes to economic development in the Quad Cities.

"Just about every time we meet with a business, it involves a workforce challenge," said Quad Cities chamber president Paul Rumler.

Rumler helped lead a Chamber Talent Business Forum, a virtual event hat included a market analyst and officials from both the Illinois and Iowa employment services offices.

Iowa Workforce Development says the numbers show plenty of unfilled jobs.

The last jobs report found 61600 unemployed Iowans.

But 83,331 available jobs as of mid-January.

"We have more job openings than we have people on unemployment, and so, in every sector," said Gov. Reynolds.

The governor says her proposed 4% flat tax and other incentives could make a difference is job creation across the state.

"That money that we can give back to Iowans will turn over and over in our communities, on our Main Streets, in our businesses, and restaurants and will continue to see that economic growth that I believe is possible."

But job experts said it will take new initiatives, not only from government but from the private sector, to alleviate the workforce shortages.

"We've seen that all over the state with employers doing exactly that: you know, expanding, providing new benefits, unique opportunities, flexible work schedules, the telework option that has been developed during the pandemic has been a great option," said Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend.

But it's not easy in a state like Iowa.

"The demographics are against us here," said Jim Morgan, vice president of Wisconsin-based MRA, which bills itself as one of the largest employer associations in the world.

"Maybe they're the people who left the area," he said regarding possible job candidates.

"How do we get them to come back again?  And those kinds of strategies are what's needed to overcome (a tight job market).

One of his answers?

"Selling the quality of life back here in the Quad Cities."

Gov. Reynolds said she believes her tax overhaul plan, incentive programs, as well as the assets offered throughout the state of Iowa will help.

You can watch "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.