Sanger jobless rate still high but improving

SANGER, Calif.

But it's a different story in much of the Central Valley where most jobless numbers rose. Mariposa, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties all saw unemployment increases for the month of October. The only bright spot is in Merced County where numbers were down slightly.

The unemployment rate in Sanger is 24.7 percent. And while that's high, city officials say it's better than in years past thanks to some innovative ideas.

These days, holiday music can be heard up and down the streets of Downtown Sanger. But, the festive mood doesn't stop there. Construction projects, such as a Fresh and Easy grocery store, prove more growth is on the way.

"We've brought in a lot of business and we've seen our existing businesses grow," said Mayor Joshua Mitchell.

Mayor Mitchell says city officials have worked to create jobs by becoming more business friendly. Some of the changes they've made include eliminating permit costs downtown, and cutting impact fees for commercial development. In addition, on December 3rd and 4th, people shopping in Sanger will not pay the city's 1.75 percent sales tax. "That goes for cars, that goes for diamonds, as we said, it goes for anything you purchase in the City of Sanger will have no city sales tax whatsoever," said Mayor Mitchell.

Longtime business owner, Elisa Rodriguez says she hopes the city's progress has longevity.

Action News: "Are you optimistic things will get better?

Rodriguez: "Yes, they will be if people have faith in themselves and stick around."

For some residents, optimism is hard to find. Nearly one in four people is unemployed.

"It's been really tough on everyone, not just myself," said Yvette Olea.

Olea has been out of work for 8 months. The single mother said, although she's applied several times, jobs in Sanger are scarce. "Sometimes you have to drive out of Sanger to go and look for job and it's tough."

The situation is improving. In 2010 Sanger's unemployment rate averaged 26.2 percent. That's 1.5 percent higher than it is currently.

Sanger officials say because of their success, other Valley cities have asked them for advice on how to promote business and create jobs.

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