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In Midwest, jobs for brewers, nurses and chocolate makers

  • Story Highlights
  • The Midwest has been hit hard in the recession, but some jobs are available
  • CNN affiliates: Offbeat industries like brewing and chocolate making are faring well
  • Nursing and health care are also seen as stable
  • WRTV: The Census Bureau, which recently hosted a job fair, is hiring in Indiana
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By John D. Sutter
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(CNN) -- With thousands of jobs lost in the manufacturing sector and some of the highest unemployment rates in the country, the Midwest has taken an especially hard hit during this economic recession.

Jobs are available in Wisconsin's brewing industry, according to CNN affiliate WKOW.

Jobs are available in Wisconsin's brewing industry, according to CNN affiliate WKOW.

In December, the Midwest posted the second-highest regional unemployment rate in the country, at 7.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Michigan, Indiana and Illinois all were in the top five states for total job losses.

But, as CNN's affiliate stations report, there are some bright spots in the picture these days for Midwestern job seekers.

Nursing, brewing and transportation promise to bring new jobs to the region. And, like elsewhere, government jobs have taken on a new air of stability in part because of the economic stimulus package.

Dawn Jarvis, of Indiana, became tired of the ups and downs of the real estate industry.

So she decided to seek a career in nursing.

"It doesn't dry up like real estate," she told CNN affiliate WRTV, of Indianapolis. "You can take it with you wherever you go."

The station reports that nurses on average make upwards of $30 per hour. As America's population continues to age, health care is expected to be in increasing demand.

The Indiana Health Care Association told WRTV that Indiana has the greatest need for nurses of any state.

"We have the highest vacancy rate for long-term care RNs [registered nurses] in the country, and it's significantly higher than other states," association president Stephen Smith told the station.

"One of the top professions over the next 20 years is going to be nursing and the health care field in general because of the aging of the population." Read more about nurses in Indiana from WRTV

If you ever wondered what will happen to Wisconsin's brewing industry in this sober economy, Carol Nolen has a question for you:

"What better thing to do than come home at the end of the day and enjoy a beer?" the president of Capitol Brewery asked CNN member station WKOW.

And for a person coming home at the end of a long day of job searching, perhaps even more so.

The brewing industry is doing well as others tank, WKOW reports. All of the news from the industry isn't sterling. Some brewery stocks are down on the year, including those of SABMiller, the company that brews Miller products, the station says.

But overall, WKOW reports that breweries are making money and keeping people employed. Read more on the brewing industry from WKOW

Being a school bus driver may not be the sexiest of jobs in the world.

But it's better than being unemployed, Ron Reynolds told WISC in Madison, Wisconsin.

Driving schools in the area are full, and transportation companies, which normally have trouble filling their rosters, are awash with interest from applicants who seem to be more qualified than in years past, the station reports.

Jerry Klabacka, director of Diesel Truck Driving School, told WISC that the industry is hiring truck drivers now, but that could change if companies slow their shipments of goods.

The transportation industry in Madison "is recession-proof in the standpoint that it always needs people," he said. "However, when production goes down in this country, so does freight."

For now, WISC reports that the local transportation sector in the area is seeing "unprecedented growth." Read more from WISC

Damian Givens attended a recent job fair hosted by the U.S. Census Bureau in Greenwood, Indiana.

He told WRTV that it's "refreshing" to know that someone is offering jobs.

The bureau, which takes a detailed survey of the American public every 10 years, plans to hire 900 people in the area by April 1, and another 1,000 employees next year, the station reports. All of those jobs pertain to the bureau's 2010 survey.

Workers will be paid between $11 and $13 an hour, WRTV says.

Since the turnout at the jobs event in late February wasn't high, the Census Bureau is still expecting applicants. Watch a WRTV video from the jobs event

"We think there will be a lot more people, because jobs are hard to come by -- and the census is going to offer that opportunity for people," Dennis Sturdevant, of the Census Bureau, told WRTV.

In Anderson, Indiana, the chocolate maker Nestle is getting headlines for its decision to take a manufacturing plant back up to full capacity this week.

"The plant, which makes and distributes Nesquik and Coffee-Mate, has added hundreds of new jobs to a community desperately in need of positive economic news," WRTV reports.

Nestle announced it would expand the plant by 880,000 square feet and had 100 more jobs, the station says. Originally, the chocolate maker had planned to add 300 jobs.

Indiana's governor touted the 100-job expansion as a success in hard times. See a photo of the plant and read more from WRTV

"In a worldwide recession, this company is growing ... is succeeding against all those odds," Gov. Mitch Daniels said during a tour of the plant, according to WRTV.

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