Members of the Iowa House Rural Caucus today said a plan by Governor Branstad to close 39 workforce offices unfairly targets rural Iowa.

“Governor Branstad’s plan to shut down workforce offices is a step in the wrong direction. With a growing economy and $900 million budget surplus, there is no reason to end critical job training and placement services for Iowans in rural communities,” said Rep. Andrew Wenthe, D-Hawkeye, who chairs the House Democrats Rural Caucus.

Governor Branstad’s plan to close 39 workforce offices was released today by Iowa Workforce Development Officials. It will eliminate job development & placement assistance, interviewing skills workshops, and claims assistance. The workforce centers also support local businesses and help them find skilled workers.

“Eliminating workforce offices in rural communities such as Oelwein, Estherville, New Hampton and 36 others will make it even harder for Iowans looking for a good-paying job to secure 21st century job skills and opportunities,” said Wenthe. “This short-sighted and irresponsible decision is a slap in the face to rural Iowa.”

The Rural Caucus was created by House Democrats last year to give Iowa’s rural economy a boost by focusing on rural job creation, meeting Iowa’s rural infrastructure needs, and guaranteeing adequate resources for rural schools. Wenthe was subsequently elected to lead a group of rural legislators representing areas outside metropolitan areas in Iowa.