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The Central Valley of California has a terrible unemployment problem. But the cause isn’t a decline in farm employment, according to the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Bettina Boxall recounts the problems that were supposed to decimate the farm economy of inland California — a declining national economy and water shortages that many feared would turn the valley into a dust bowl. But in 2009, there was virtually no job loss in the farm sector.
“People make a lot of claims, but the data you see is showing growth,” said Paul Wessen, an economist with the California Employment Development Department. “We’re just not seeing the job loss.” In Fresno County, which has rising unemployment overall, actually saw an increase in ag jobs last year. Rice and tomatoes had a bumper crop last year and grapes were near a record crop.
“The agricultural industry in 2009 is going to be one of your stellar performers in the state in terms of revenue,” said Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. “Outside of healthcare, they’re probably No. 2 in terms of dodging the worst impacts of the recession.”