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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Out of work at age 51, Jim Thompson is counting on Portland Community College and the solar industry to pull him through the recession.
At last count, he has applied for about 100 jobs with little response since he was laid off from the semiconductor industry in January. So he's pinning his hopes on a six-week solar technology program at the Rock Creek campus to improve his odds.
But the employment outlook for Thompson and thousands of other laid-off workers flooding community colleges is murky at best.
Despite an additional $17 million in federal stimulus money for retraining laid-off workers in Oregon, the state's 12 percent unemployment rate is the second-highest in the nation. Hiring has slowed even in strong sectors such as health care, welding and renewable energy.
College officials hope that when the economy tunas around, Thompson and other workers will …