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Unemployment Rate Improves In Fresno, Slightly Higher In Rural Areas

Fresno City Hall is understandably happy with the latest unemployment numbers. The unemployment rate in the city for November was 5.1%. This compares to an unemployment rate of 8.2% for November 2017.

Said Mayor Lee Brand in a written statement: “My Administration has been focused on economic development from Day One and these numbers show that our efforts are paying off with the lowest unemployment rates in recent history. We are excited to see what the new year will bring as Fresno continues to build on its positive momentum.”

City Hall says the numbers show the lowest yearly average for Fresno’s jobless rate in the past 50 years.

A news release from the state Employment Development Department tells us that the unemployment rate in November 2018 for all of Fresno County was 6.9%. That compares to 7.9% for November 2017.

What’s all this mean for the City of Fresno? Certainly it’s great news that the unemployment rates for both Fresno and the county are in the single digits. But it does suggest that unemployment is a more serious problem in our smaller cities and the rural areas than in the huge Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area. And it suggests that, as been happening for longer than anyone can remember, young and ambitious adults living in the “outback” will continue to look toward the big city (Fresno in our case) for economic opportunity.

Those young men and women will either move here or commute. For the most part, they will be highly motivated to succeed (the specter of returning to the village or the farm with empty pockets can do that to the ambitious).

I think Mayor Brand and his team will continue the work of Mayors Patterson, Autry and Swearengin in making Fresno a better place for companies to do business. I think jobs will multiply. Some on the City Council are keen on using the coercive power of City Hall to force companies to hire Fresnans first, in particular Fresnans living in certain disadvantaged neighborhoods.

That strikes me as leading us down a path of social and economic engineering with dubious consequences for both the city and the region.

Bring in the jobs. Give them to the best men and women, no matter where they live. As to those left in the cold – get better!

George Hostetter
George Hostetter is The Sun’s Fresno Civic contributor – covering the City of Fresno, County of Fresno, and Fresno Council of Governments.

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