Valley Unemployment Rate Rises

September 19, 2008 9:32:13 PM PDT
The latest report released by the state shows one out of every ten people in Tulare County is unemployed. The same is true for Fresno, Kings and Madera counties. No surprise-- experts say the economy is to blame.Irene Sanchez tries to come to the Employment Development Department in Fresno at least once a week.

Irene Sanchez: "Since January I've been trying to look for a job but it's hard right now."

Sanchez doesn't have a high school diploma, making job-searching extra difficult.

Irene Sanchez: "They're picky because they ask for certain things which some of them I don't know have like HS diploma or GED or experience and I don't really have that."

She's trying to find a steady job, but with little experience and few openings out there, it's taken her nine months and counting to find any work. Experts say searching for a job in the central valley is extra hard during tough times.

Sheila Urdesich, Employment Development Dept: "We're Ag based and Ag is very seasonal. We don't have a lot of other things to draw from like some of the major counties have and so when things are bad they seem to hit us worse here."

Merced County has the highest unemployment rate in the valley right now at 11.2%.

Fresno County is at 9.7% and Tulare County at 10.6%. Compare these numbers to San Francisco and San Diego Counties which are at 5.9 and 6.4%, respectively.

Sheila Urdesich: "We're not as diverse as a lot of other counties on other opportunities other places where people can look for work."

Guadalupe Vasquez knows all too well the harsh consequences of the housing slump. He lost his job as a building inspector seven months ago and is still looking for work.

Guadalupe Vasquez: "Right now I send resumes all over the place I make phone calls I've gone to work fairs and believe me it's not easy."

The sluggish economy is prompting more people to go back at school. College of Sequoias here in Visalia has 17-percent more students than last year. Administrators say some of the increase comes from those who are having a hard time finding work.

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