The unemployment rate in the Valley rises

FRESNO, California

"There's plenty of work. Plenty of work to go around."

These days, you're more likely to hear.

"It's kinda rough out there. You put in an application, send a resume. You don't get replies. "

The difference is Julia Veal is looking for an administrative job, like the one she was laid off from 6 months ago. While Farm labor contractor Andres Ramos is looking for workers to pick grapes. He says the usual workforce appears to be "missing" up and down the Valley. "I'd say 4 to 5 thousand people. I'm short more than half of what I normally run."

Ramos says the late raisin harvest prompted workers to head to the apple orchards of Washington State. Despite the shortage of labor ... Agriculture and food processing added about 4 thousand seasonal jobs in Fresno County. Retail jobs were also boosted a bit between July and August, thanks mostly to the opening of a new department store.

Labor Market Analyst Steve Gutierrez says those numbers are a positive sign, in an otherwise bleak job outlook."Some of the job gains are small but I think any job gains at this point is a good thing."

The biggest job losses over the past year came in the public sector. Government agencies lost nearly 5,000 jobs over the past year. There were 500 more layoffs in just the past month.

Fresno County's unemployment rate stood at more than 15 per cent in August. That's down from 16 per cent in July. But the numbers are up from 14 per cent one year ago.

Economist Joseph Penbera of California State University Fresno, believes the real numbers are actually higher. "Historical unemployment we're used to 15 to 16 %. That's what we have. It's probably close to 25% because of the people not counted anymore."

The people not counted are those who have just given up. Something Julia Veal says she will not do. "I have to be persistent with it just constantly. Just keep putting your resume out there and hoping and praying somebody will acknowledge one of them."

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