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Sun Jun 9, 2019, 10:32 PM

Strong job market hampers FEMA hiring in flood-hit states

Source: Associated Press

Strong job market hampers FEMA hiring in flood-hit states

By GRANT SCHULTE
June 9, 2019

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is facing an unexpected challenge in meeting the needs of the many people affected by this spring’s widespread flooding and violent storms: a strong economy.

Tasked with responding to natural disasters that seem ever more frequent and destructive, the agency finds itself further challenged by the robust job market and an inability to match what the private sector can offer, in many cases. FEMA officials are turning for help to retirees, recent college graduates and those who lost their jobs to the disasters, though they’re finding few available workers in many of the rural communities that are in some of the hardest-hit areas.

In no place is that clearer than Nebraska and Iowa, which were ravaged by floods and have some of the nation’s lowest unemployment rates. Iowa’s had the third-lowest unemployment rate in April, at 2.4 percent, while Nebraska’s was the ninth-lowest, at 2.9 percent.

“The low unemployment rate certainly makes it a little more of an uphill battle, as it is for everyone in the state trying to attract workers,” said Herb Doering, a FEMA human resources manager who runs the hiring program in Nebraska.

FEMA has gone to job fairs and sent emails to about 20 local colleges, with a focus on students who might be interested in an emergency management career, Doering said. He said the agency tries to focus on hiring students, retirees, veterans and those who lost their jobs or homes in the natural disasters. The agency also is working with the Nebraska Department of Labor to recruit employees.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/021385eb57cc4309a62275a3e751b4d6

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