State and Valley Unemployment Decreases

May 22, 2009 5:35:41 PM PDT
It may only be a slight improvement, but California's unemployment rate for April was 11-percent, down from 11.2-percent in March. In the Valley, unemployment also decreased, but the numbers are still quite high. Each of the Valley's six counties had a rate above 11-percent -- with Merced County at the highest -- 18.3-percent. Fresno County was second at 15.5-percent. Mariposa was the lowest at 11-percent

We searched the most recent jobs report, and we found the farm industry showed the strongest job growth last month. Fresno County gained a total of 11,600 jobs. Experts predict more jobs are on the way but not in big numbers.

Finding a transportation job will be very tough for Mary Navarro. That industry shrunk last month. Navarro said, "Here I'm just filling out applications. Online I do it everyday. I look for a job everyday." The reporter asked, "How many jobs have you applied for?" Navarro said, "Tons, tons, everywhere. I've went everywhere."

If Navarro worked in Ag, her chances would be better because the industry supported Fresno County's job growth. The state reports farm jobs in Fresno County increased last month by 10,800. Government jobs posted the second largest gain of 500. Leisure and hospitality added 300 jobs.

Labor consultant Steven Gutierrez explained that every year in April farm jobs naturally increase with the harvest underway. Gutierrez said, "The numbers just don't support anything right now to say hey there's a turn around. Most of the economists are saying things aren't going to turn around until 2010."

The streets of Pariler are not buzzing with excitement: unemployment is near 34-percent. But a barber shop is busy. Eddie Montano said the Ag town has seen devastating times before and things could actually be worse. Montano said, "The worst I've seen was back in the freeze, the orange freeze that one was pretty bad. That one was the worst."

The Ag industry is expected to add more jobs through the fall. Over all, we have nearly 3-percent fewer jobs now than we did one year ago.

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