Valley Cities Rank Worst in Job Growth

Fresno, CA, USA New numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics rank valley cities among the worst in the nation for new job growth. Merced ranks fourth in the country and highest in the valley ... With a 12-point-1 percent unemployment rate. Followed by Visalia, Fresno, Hanford, and Madera.

More than 12 thousand people are currently unemployed in Merced. But the city says businesses are interested in moving here because of the long term potential, and now local leaders are trying to show more companies what the area has to offer.

Greg Conner worked in construction for 15 years before the housing boom went bust ... and he ended up unemployed. Conner turned to the Merced Rescue Mission for help and recently earned his GED in hopes of getting a job in retail. But so far, all he's heard is "we're not hiring."

Greg Conner said, "It's actually pretty frustrating because you spend all that time doing that hard work and doing the testing thinking it's going to get you somewhere and then you hit a road block."

And he's certainly not alone ...

City of Merced Spokesperson Mike Conway said, "When the foreclosure crisis erupted, we had all sorts of people who were not just contractors and construction workers, but also those in the other fields like retail outlets and things like that that also suffered."

But city spokesperson Mike Conway says Merced is actively working to attract new businesses.

Conway said, "Right now staff is down in San Diego at a solar power industry convention where they're talking with different power companies and research and development to see what kind of solar opportunities we might be able to bring here."

And Conway says despite the current downturn, companies are showing interest in Merced. That includes a dairy processing plant that would bring 125 new jobs to the city, as well as two potential call centers.

"One would bring 300 jobs, one would bring 400 jobs," says Conway.

Which could be the break Conner and thousands of other unemployed residents are waiting for ...

Conner said, "I just have to keep my faith up and know that something's gonna come real soon."

The city also points out that UC Merced will continue to add jobs as more faculty and staff are hired to keep up with the growing student population.


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