Rich Johnson decided to attend Blackhawk Technical College to work on an associate degree after being laid off from Lear Corp. but stopped soon after due to a back injury. He now is struggling with  the loss of health insurance and unemployment benefits. "I wake up in the morning and I think, 'What direction am I going to go today?' Then other days I think 'I'm taking a break ... I'm tired,' " Johnson said.

Safety net frayed for workers who supplied GM

After two years of unemployment, Rich Johnson has skidded into scary territory. The 55-year-old is among many in Rock County who’ve endured six months or more of unemployment. They are part of a grim statistic that casts a long shadow over the recovering economy.


Rays of hope: Some companies expanding in Rock County

Penn Color Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that makes color concentrates, considered about half a dozen communities in the Midwest before deciding to invest $5 million on a new manufacturing plant and research center in Milton.

Slideshow: A community transformed (Dairyland Diversity Part 6)

Reporter Jacob Kushner and photographer Jake Naughton went to Darlington, Wis., for the latest installment of our Dairyland Diversity package (it’s here: Immigrant dairy workers transform a rural Wisconsin community). And they came back with an unusual coming-to-America story. One in which the old guard and the new wave are actually living in relative harmony.