Stanislaus County’s unemployment edges up in November and thousands will lose their benefits next week

jnsbranti@modbee.comDecember 20, 2013 


From the left, Vincent Patterson, Savanna King, and jobseeker who wanted to be known as Drak, fill out job applications during Modestoês HIREvent job fair at the Clarion Inn Conference Center on Tuesday, November 19, 2013. A wide range of Modesto area employers participated and free expert help with resumes was offered.

ANDY ALFARO — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

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Unemployment inched up in the northern San Joaquin Valley last month, but that’s typical for November because food processing and harvests typically wind down by then.

The good news is that fewer Valley residents reportedly were unemployed last month than during November 2012.

But the region’s jobless rate remains nearly double the national average, and there’s more woe ahead for local job seekers: Next week, more than 10,900 of them will lose their emergency unemployment compensation.

That’s because Congress has not extended federal benefits for those who have been out of work longer than six months.

The weekly unemployment checks of up to $450 each are scheduled to disappear Dec. 28.

California’s Employment Development Department announced Friday that Stanislaus County’s November unemployment rate was 12.1 percent. It was 11.6 percent in October and 14 percent a year earlier.

Of the estimated 28,500 Stanislaus residents who actively sought work but couldn’t find jobs in November, 3,749 will be cut off from all unemployment benefits next week – unless Congress changes its budget.

To ease hardships caused by the recession, federal funds have been used since 2008 to help job seekers whose state unemployment benefits had run out.

Stanislaus’ representative in Congress, Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, doesn’t support continuing those payments.

“A one-year extension of unemployment benefits offered to employees who have been receiving unemployment compensation for 26 weeks would cost about $25 billion,” Denham said Friday in an email to The Modesto Bee explaining why he opposes continuing those payments.

“My focus is on passing legislation to create jobs and opportunity rather than spending money we don’t have,” Denham wrote. “I’ve supported temporary extensions of unemployment benefits in the past. We can’t afford to continue extending emergency government programs.”

But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to bring a three-month benefit extension up for a vote Jan. 6 or 7. Even if the Democrat-controlled Senate approves the extension, however, the Republican-controlled House may not agree to vote on the matter.

Merced County’s representative in Congress, Jim Costa, D-Fresno, favors extending those jobless payments. Costa had tried unsuccessfully this month to get the House to vote on that issue.

“Here in the Valley, economic recovery has been slower than in many other parts of the nation, and many are now facing greater uncertainty about how to make ends meet during the time of year they should be able to focus on their families and their blessings,” Costa told The Fresno Bee last week.

“As Congress heads home to celebrate the holidays, my Republican friends should be ashamed that they left without holding a vote to maintain a lifeline to families in need,” he said.

Merced’s unemployment rate last month was 13.6 percent, compared to 12 percent in October and 15.1 percent a year ago. Only three of California’s 58 counties have higher unemployment rates than Merced. Of Merced’s 15,100 job seekers, 1,939 will lose the last of their unemployment benefits next week.

In San Joaquin County, last month’s unemployment rate was 12.2 percent, compared to 11.6 percent in October and 14.1 percent a year ago. Of the 35,800 job seekers there, 4,924 will lose their benefits next week.

In Tuolumne County, last month’s unemployment was 8.7 percent, compared with 8.6 percent in October and 10.4 percent a year ago. Of the 2,180 job seekers there, 313 will lose their benefits next week.

California’s unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in November, and it was 6.6 percent for the United States as a whole. Of the 1,528,400 Californians out of work, about 214,000 will be cut off from benefits next week.

The Fresno Bee contributed to this story. Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at or (209) 578-2196.

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