Manufacturing, construction jobs are on the rise

FRESNO, California

Lily Tejada's job description involved greeting people at Liberty Income Tax. But now that tax season is over, she is out of a job and on the hunt for what's next. "I'm looking everywhere. I'm not going to be choosy because right now you can't," said Lily Tejada.

Tejada is now looking for any position to make ends meet but she'd rather find a full-time gig. "There's a lot of jobs out there that are seasonal, they're good jobs and they pay great when you're working but when you get laid off, you need something else," said Tejada.

According to the latest employment numbers, the job market is improving. The unemployment rate in Fresno County for the month of March fell to 17.4% compared to 18 % last year. "The March report has been the strongest so far in regards to both month-over growth and also year-over growth," said Steven Gutierrez, labor market consultant with the Employment Development Department.

The biggest growth was seen in manufacturing and construction jobs. And April is the time when jobs in the Ag industry usually pick up. But last week's hail storm that damaged many crops in the South Valley could cause a setback. "We're always at the mercy of mother nature unfortunately. We've got to take it in stride what happens," said Don Patrick. Patrick is with the Nisei Farmers League, which represents growers throughout the Valley.

He says although the damage is cause for concern, farm work shouldn't be interrupted significantly. "They're basically just going to go wherever the jobs are. They may have to move those crews or those people may have to go a little bit further to where the damage didn't occur," said Patrick.

While economic experts expect a slow recovery, those in the same position as Tejada just hope things pick up rather quickly. "Permanent, that's what I'm looking for because I need the benefits and I need something year round," said Tejada.

Whether or not the improving job numbers can continue remains to be seen. Experts say high gas and food prices have a tendency to pinch consumers' wallets -- which in turn affects job growth.

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