The chance to fill one of 35 jobs at a re-opened milk and ice-cream factory that previously employed 400 people has generated 1,600 applications in Hagerstown, Maryland, the Washington Post reported
The facility, once home to the Good Humor-Breyers ice cream plant, closed in the summer of 2012 when Unilever shifted production to Tennessee, Missouri, and Nevada where costs are lower.
Many of the laid-off Good Humor workers are still unemployed.
News that a family-based Virginia dairy farmers co-op had purchased the old Good Humor factory to process milk and ice cream— on a dramatically smaller scale than before — created a flood of job applications even though the work doesn't pay as much as Good Humor did.
Hagerstown has a population 40,000 with an unemployment rate hovering around 7.3 percent. The laid-off ice-cream workers and other unemployed are struggling to make ends meet and stave off foreclosures, the Post reported.
According to the newspaper, "Wall Street is booming, the Federal Reserve is paring back its stimulus, there are bidding wars for houses again, but for blue-collar workers in places like Hagerstown the economic recovery has yet to materialize, and many around town worry that it won't."
Some are upset that after decades of responsible work experience they cannot find employment. Maryland lost a "catastrophic" 40 percent of its manufacturing jobs since 2000, the Post reported.
State and local industry are trying to retrain workers for the new economy. But bringing the lower-skilled unemployed up to speed is not without difficulty.
Laid-off ice cream workers were eligible for $4,500 in retraining money. Of the 85 who enrolled, 49 have found permanent work as truck drivers, forklift operators, and even dental assistants.
The new dairy factory is slated to begin production on Jan. 22 making ice-cream products under the Shenandoah Family Farms label, according to the Herald Mail Media
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