Written by The Business Journal Staff
Despite positive job gains in Fresno and other Valley counties, area unemployment rates inched up in June, according to new data from the state Employment Development Department.
Fresno County’s June unemployment rate was 9.4 percent, up from a revised 8.4 percent last month and just below 9.7 percent last year.
Last month saw Fresno County’s lowest June unemployment rate since 2007.
On a month-over-month basis, total industry employment actually increased by 2,100 jobs, with the largest increase in nondurable goods manufacturing, which added 1,000 jobs.
Steven Gutierrez, an EDD labor market analyst in Fresno, said unemployment rates typically inch up in June as an influx of workers return to the workforce, including students and retirees.
“It normally goes down against next month, based on seasonal trends,” he added.
On a year-over-year basis, farm employment was up by 2,900 jobs in Fresno County, while nonfarm industries added 12,700 jobs. Government (4,100) and trade, transportation & utilities (3,900) saw the largest year-over gains.
For the last couple of years unemployment rates have been steadily falling across the Valley on an annual basis, oftentimes by two or three percentage points. This month, Valley unemployment rates remained unchanged or just above last year’s mark, suggesting a pending plateau in job growth.
But Gutierrez cautioned against reading too much into the numbers too soon.
“One month doesn’t make a trend,” he said. “We have to see how the second half plays out.”
In Kings County, the unemployment rate rose to 10.2 percent in June, up from 8.6 percent in May and below 10.3 percent a year ago.
Farms shed 800 jobs, while nonfarm industries added a net 100 jobs on a month-over basis.
Year over year, farms added 500 jobs while nonfarm industries added a net 400 jobs. Kings County manufacturers shed 300 jobs year-over-year, while trade, transportation & utilities added 300 jobs.
Madera County reported a 9.4 percent unemployment rate last month, up from 8.4 percent in May and below 10.1 percent last year.
Madera County was unique in June in that no industries lost jobs on a month-over or year-over basis. Farms added 400 jobs and nonfarm industries added 600 jobs month-over-month.
Year-over-year, farm employment was steady while nonfarm industries added 3,000 jobs.
In Tulare County, the June unemployment rate was 10.8 percent, up from 9.4 percent in May and 11 percent last year.
Month-over-month, farms shed 1,400 jobs while nonfarm industries had no net gain in jobs.
Year-over-year, farms added 600 jobs while nonfarm industries saw an additional 4,000 jobs.
California saw a 5.7 percent unemployment rate last month, up 0.2 points from May.
Destroyed plant owner seeks jobs for displaced
Initiative Foods hosted a job fair Wednesday for 70 to 80 of its employees out of work due to a plant fire in Sanger this weekend.
John Ypma, president of organic baby food manufacturer Initiative Foods, said it could be another 12 to 18 months before the company is able to complete a rebuild of its production facilities.
In the meantime, workers including machine operators, forklift drivers and general laborers, are looking for new jobs.
“Our employees are trained for food safety, food quality, employee safety,” Ypma said. “Most of these people have been working for us for 10-plus years. They are really good people.”
Ypma is issuing a call to employers who may be interested in hiring some of the displaced Initiative Foods workforce. He said employers already participating include Lyons Magnus, Brownie Baker, Pacific Choice, National Raisin and more.
Interested employers can contact Merisha Torrano at 209-678-2908.
Ypma said investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire on Sunday.
A gofundme.com account has been created to benefit employees affected by the fire. In a couple days the page had raised nearly $24,000 of the $200,000 goal.