Jeffery Michaels of the University of the Pacific's Business Forecasting Center had this to say about the state of the local economy in a recent newspaper article:
"There are no early signs of growth in here at all. It looks like a dead job market."
This in connection with a report that the county's unemployment rate topped out at 18.4 percent in January — comapred with a statewide mark of 13.2 percent and a nationwide mark of 10.6 percent.
Yes, that's bad — very, very, very bad — but a bit of context:
This region's economy has always been a cyclical affair, and due to its still largely agrarian nature, the San Joaquin Valley has always boasted higher unemployment rates than the rest of the state. Especially in winter. The area's relatively low level of education and its reliance on lower-income spectrum jobs doesn't help, either.
This isn't to say we should accept this level of unemployement or underdevelopment, but it helps to know why our numbers are so bad in comparison to others.
Oh, one final bad-news note. The hundreds of local jobs expected to be lost by the NUMMI closure haven't been factored into the numbers yet. So the statistics are only going to get worse before they get better.