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Drought Likely To Take Toll On Central Valley Employment Numbers

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Mud Cracks

Dry ground. (CBS)

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Tim Ryan graduated from CSU Chico with a Journalism degree and work...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — As water supplies shrink due to the ongoing drought—the driest in the California’s recorded history—unemployment in the Central Valley’s agricultural industry is predicted to rise.

Michael Bernick, former head of the Employment Department, said unemployment which is currently more than 12 percent in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Fresno Counties, and more than 14 percent in Merced will rise affecting farm-workers, truckers, processing plant employees and many more agriculture industry workers.

“Depending on how the water issue is resolved; it’s an economy that doesn’t have a wide diversity of industry as we have here, for example, in the Bay Area,” he said.

“It’s also true that of the various economic development attempt for the last 35 years, the only one that’s really likely to have major impact in growing that diversification of sectors is high speed rail.”

But that project, however, is on hold and is currently tied up in the state’s high courts.

Drought-related layoffs could come soon and Mike Mallory, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank in Manteca, said he fears a big demand for food aid.

“I’m trying to be optimistic but it’s going to go up. I could see 15 to 20 percent, easy,” he said.

“The face of hunger isn’t the homeless; this is your next-door neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or relative.”

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