published on May 19, 2017 - 11:14 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

The start of spring means workers are returning to Central Valley farms — 18,800 just last month alone, to be exact.

That’s the word from the California Employment Development Department (EDD), whose latest unemployment data for April indicates that farm employment in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties is starting its upward cycle for the season.

Fresno County’s unemployment rate for April was 8.8 percent, down from 10.2 percent in March and below 9.8 percent a year ago.

The start of the agriculture season led to a gain of 6,700 workers on Fresno County farms last month, with nonfarm employment also gaining 1,600 jobs.

Crops including blueberries, strawberries and asparagus were being harvested last month, according to the EDD.

Year-over-year, nonfarm employment rose by 7,100 jobs while farm employment declined by 1,800 jobs. Government reported the largest year-over increase with 2,800 jobs — 2,000 in local, 600 in federal and 200 in state.

Trade, transportation and utilities had the second largest gain with 2,000 jobs. Construction also gained 800 jobs.

In Kings County, the April unemployment rate was 9.5 percent, down from 11.2 percent in March and below 10.2 percent a year ago.

Kings County Farms gained 900 new jobs last month, and nonfarm industries added 400 jobs.

Year over over, farms shed 900 jobs and nonfarm industries gained a net 400 jobs.

In Madera County, last month’s unemployment rate was 8.5 percent, down from 9.9 percent in March and below 9.7 percent last year.

Month over month, Madera County farms added 600 jobs and nonfarm industries added 200 jobs.

Year over year, farms lost 1,100 jobs and nonfarm industries netted 1,000 jobs.

In Tulare, the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in April, down from 12.3 percent in March and below 10.8 percent last year.

Tulare County farms added a whopping 10,600 jobs last month, with nonfarm industries adding 1,500 jobs.

Year over year, farms lost 100 jobs while nonfarm industries netted 2,300 jobs.

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