Mervyns Closes, Valley's Unemployment Spikes

December 24, 2008 6:53:49 PM PST
The number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits rose to their highest level in 26 years. The numbers indicate employers are stepping up job cuts as the recession deepens. The Central Valley is about to see more people out of work. Eight percent of California's workers are unemployed. The situation will get worse as a wave of lay offs are expected after the holidays. One major valley retailer is closing on Sunday further putting a squeeze on California's economy. Eric is inching closer to unemployment. For 17 years, he's worked at the Mervyns on Blackstone Avenue. But on Monday, the retailer is expected to close leaving nearly 700 valley workers without a job including Eric. He said, "We're just looking for other work and doing the best we can during the holiday season."

While Mervyns shoppers are finding bargains and even buying old clothing racks, the store's closing worries people like Joe Cabrera. He works for California's Employment Development Department. Cabrera is expecting a wave of unemployment filings when the holidays conclude. Cabrera said, "There has been a lot of companies closing up right now. The people that are being laid off from the Christmas hires will be coming back to the unemployment lines."

Eric said, "It's hard, because of the economy. A lot of people are losing their jobs." Soon Eric will be joining the unemployed like Ruben Gonzales. Gonzales has been job hunting for the past 10 months. Gonzales said, "It has affected me all around. Housing, food, bills-everything is getting back up. It is really hard."

The state is worried a flood of people will tie up phone lines when they try to file for unemployment on Monday. To file for unemployment over the phone dial: 1-800-300-5616 File online: www.edd.ca.gov

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