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Unemployment, alcohol misuse among Marathon County challenges

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Marathon County faces a challenge of how to help unemployed residents find living wage jobs, according to a new report.

The LIFE report, released Friday by the United Way of Marathon County, identifies unemployment as one of five top calls to action. The report also suggests that the community tackle bulging waistlines and the problem of alcohol and drug misuse.

The development of young children and meeting basic needs like food and shelter round out the calls to action. The report also names an aging population and domestic abuse as two issues to watch over the next two years.

“Marathon County residents enjoy a high quality of life,” said United Way executive director Joanne Kelly. She said the calls to action “can serve as a reference and as a starting point for meaningful community action to address them.”

A steering committee developed the calls to action based on a survey of roughly 900 residents. The survey asked residents to weigh in on nearly 70 quality of life indicators ranging from how safe the community is to how healthy residents are.

Alcohol use and misuse and the basic needs both surfaced as calls to action in the last report which came out in January 2010. Two groups have combined since then to form the county's alcohol and drug partnership council – the same panel that led Wausau last fall to pass an ordinance targeting anyone who hosts an underage drinking party.

The report found several community strengths, including a diverse economy, strong education system and available transportation and health care resources.

On the Web: LIFE Report

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