Rising Unemployment in Valley Cities

March 5, 2009 9:56:37 PM PST
New unemployment numbers released Thursday show the already high number of people out of work in the Valley is climbing even higher.The unemployment rate in Fresno County now stands at more than 15 percent. 16 percent in Tulare County similar numbers in Kings and Madera Counties. In Merced the jobless rate is the highest in the Valley--nearly 19 percent. And Mariposa County is approaching 13 percent.

The lines are getting longer and so are the faces of those waiting in line. There are jobs in the Valley, but most are low paying restaurant or retail jobs. At Workforce Connection it's hard to even find a computer to look for a job. Everyone here has a story.

Karen Marzette said, "I worked for Linens' N Things for 13 years. And I actually helped open that location here in Fresno and enjoyed it thoroughly, when we got news in October they were closing extremely upset and devastated but worked through that and had to figure out what I was going to do afterwards."

Karen Marzette is starting her search by refining her resume. She was an assistant store manager and doesn't want to take a minimum wage job, unless she has no choice.

For Karen and the many others looking for work, local job experts say with retail rather unstable, changing careers is a good option. The medical and healthcare field still has the most opportunities and openings in the Valley.

Medical Assistants, Pharmacy Technicians and Medical Billers make up some of the jobs available that pay more than minimum wage and require little training.

Steven Gutierrez studies unemployment numbers. Just looking at one month's trends shows the downturn. "In regards to our numbers here, month over there was no job growth in any sector. We had 8 sectors that had a negative job growth," said Gutierrez.

From December 08 to January 09 in Fresno County 1200 retail jobs were lost and 700 construction jobs. The unemployment office is packed with people too. As things get worse, many are just settling for any job they can get.

Ivonne Lopez with Workforce Connection said, "They're not being picky pretty much right now. It's what's there, what's available they just need a job."

Karen has found her niche, and not in retail. She said, "I've decided I want to go into the medical billing field. There's always seems to be openings in medicine in some way, shape or form."

Competition for jobs out there is fierce. Many people are applying for jobs they are over qualified for because they are desperate.

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