Another Valley Business Closes

November 30, 2008 11:29:14 AM PST
50 employees were let go Friday from Athens Bakery. The company sells wholesale goods to area businesses. It's just one company this year to shut its doors here in the Valley.Employees at Athens Bakery in Southeast Fresno were called in for an urgent meeting Friday morning. Mia Poole was enjoying shopping with her family when she showed up. Little did this dedicated 9-year employee know she was losing her job.

"We really didn't have any idea what was going on while all we knew was rumors that they might be closing and then we just showed up today with this," said Poole.

Owners of the Bay area based company told employees they were consolidating and that the Fresno location was no longer cost-effective.

Each employee was given a manila envelope with information on unemployment, vacation, and severance pay but employee Rosa Forsyth said, "For what? It's enough for the month. That's it."

"Employment is always a function of how much the cash register is ringing," said economist Henry Nishimoto.

Nishimoto said the first thing financially troubled companies will do to cut back cost is reduce their labor force. Athens isn't the first to let it's workers go this year. In July 200 employees were cut from Spreckels Sugar company in Mendota. Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. in downtown Fresno just released 114 employees last week. And Mervyns is shutting all of its stores. That means come December 23rd when the fashion retail giant locks up for good close to 700 valley employees will be on the street. Nishimoto warned we can expect more businesses to layoff employees in the coming months.

"Unfortunately the last couple of years we've been experiencing a decline in retail sales and variably that translates to layoffs," said Nishimoto.

And to this newly laid off group "Black Friday" has taken on a whole new meaning ...

A lot of people are chalking up our current economic woes to that of the Great Depression era. Currently the national unemployment rate is around 6.5%. In 1929 it was around 25%.

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