Valley unemployment remains high despite growth

Friday, June 15, 2012

It's been 3 years since the Central Valley has seen its unemployment rate drop below 15 percent.

While thousands are still looking for work, officials say growth is good news.

At his age, Jeff Schwabenland should be living the good life, but instead: "I work two seasonal jobs and draw unemployment in between to keep the house going"

This former Bay Area engineer is stuck trying to make ends meet. He spends a lot of time at the state's Employment Development Department in Fresno, filing claims, bouncing between jobs and realizing he's in a tough spot.

"My age group is in a quandary. I'm not old enough to retire with full retirement but yet I'm too old for the marketplace in some cases," he said.

It seems unemployment doesn't discriminate. There's always a line to use the phones and computers and everyone has a different story about work - or a lack thereof.

Some people have simply stopped working, but the news isn't all bad.

"The good news is we're continuing to see growth - that's a positive sign," Steven Gutierrez of the Employment Development Department said.

In Fresno County, May of last year unemployment was at 16% as compared to this past May when it dropped to 14.9%.

Gutierrez says this time of year usually drives our percentage down and our jobs up.

"This is normally the drop we're going to see in unemployment this time of year. That's the way the seasonal hiring goes as farming and manufacturing industries kick into production for the year," Gutierrez said.

No matter the reason, folks like Jeff Schwabenland say the system needs to change.

"I'm not sure what the answers are. I just know I'm afraid," he said.

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economy, employment, business, stephanie stone
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