Madera County assisting workers impacted by pandemic with resources

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The unemployment rate in Madera County has more than doubled from eight percent in February to 16.6 percent in April.

Officials say the hospitality industry has been hit especially hard, including the foothill communities that typically rely on tourists traveling to Yosemite.

But the county's Workforce Development Board has been helping those workers transition into fields that still have high demand, including manufacturing.

"They're finding that coming through our program, getting trained, and going into the manufacturing field has become very beneficial during these times," says Erick Flores. "They have increased into higher positions and also increased in the wages as well."

The agency is also partnering with several others to provide virtual Rapid Response orientations every Wednesday.

Their goal is to connect people with the resources they need to overcome challenges caused by the pandemic, from accessing unemployment benefits to potentially saving money through California's Low Cost Auto Insurance Program.

"It helps them significantly, especially in these challenging times when perhaps they may have to make tough decisions as far as which bills to pay, how do they reduce costs," says May Ly with Richard Heath and Associates.

The United Farm Workers Foundation is also available to help families find food distributions and other services, now that many have had to sacrifice one source of income.

"Only the men are going to work and the women are staying behind to take care of the children right now that the schools are closed, and they do not have babysitters due to COVID 19," says Linda Lurdan with the United Farm Workers Foundation. "Everyone has to stay home and be protective of their families."

The agencies hope working together as a a one stop shop will make life a little easier during these difficult times.

Another Rapid Response orientation will be held online next Wednesday. You can find contact information and other resources on their website.
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