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County sows high unemployment as harvest season ends

POSTED November 20, 2009 6:38 p.m.
After months of a steady decrease, the unemployment rate in Stanislaus County shot back up again as the harvest season came to a close, according to the latest figures from the Economic Development Department.
Stanislaus County recorded an unadjusted seasonal unemployment rate of 16.6 percent for October, compared to 15.3 percent in September. Merced County’s unemployment rate rose to 16.4 percent in October, up from 15.7 percent in September and San Joaquin County hit an unemployment rate of 16.1 percent for October, up from 15.5 percent.
Liz Baker, a labor market analysis for EDD, said the up tick in the unemployment rate is part of a historical trend in the Central Valley. On average, the area sees a 1 percent increase in unemployment as the farm and canning industries scale back with the close of the harvest season. This year the area saw a 1.4 percent increase, Baker said.
“Those two industries always have an impact on our unemployment numbers,” Baker said. “But the high unemployment rate for our area is a telling sign of the continued economic crisis.”
Typically, the EDD would see an increase in hiring in the trade markets, especially that of retail, as the holiday season approaches, but this year the increase remains to be seen, Baker said. In September there was a reduction in hiring in the retail sector and in October it remained flat.
“It’s possible we might see an increase in November, but we’re not sure what those numbers might be,” Baker said. “Typically, we would see several hundreds hired for the holiday season, but this year it’s an unknown. It’s depending on the consumer confidence and how willing they are to make purchases.”
The unemployment rate in the state rose just slightly from 12.2 percent in September to 12.5 percent in October, but overall, it is up 4.5 percent from where it was last year at this time, according to the EDD.
The unemployment rate in the United States reached 10.2 percent in October, up 0.4 percentage point from September and up 3.6 percent from a year ago.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.
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