Commuters, let Bee know how you cope
Gas prices keep rising with no end in sight, and there aren't a lot of options for local jobs. If you're a commuter who is stuck between the high cost of driving and a lack of other options, The Bee wants to hear from you, both on your frustrations and what steps you've taken to make it work. Contact reporter Ben van der Meer at 578-2331 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your situation. Responses may be used in an upcoming Bee story.
Bank firm plunges
Capital Corporation of the West, the holding company of Merced-based County Bank, lost 65 percent of its stock value Wednesday. The stock took a beating after the banking company announced this week that it expects to post a net loss of $4 million in 2007, and a net loss of $15 million in the fourth quarter of last year. The stock was $3.76 a share, down $6.90 from Tuesday. The company said in a press release that the losses were attributable to a severe downturn in Central Valley real estate toward the end of 2007, and were related to a provision of about $26 million in loan losses in that quarter. In 2006, the company noted, it posted a net profit of $22.7 million, including a $5.1 million income in the fourth quarter that year. County Bank, founded in 1977, has 41 branches in 13 counties in California, including Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced.
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UOP uses "R" word
California and the Northern San Joaquin Valley are in a mild recession as a result of the housing meltdown, according to the University of the Pacific's Business Forecasting Center. In 2008, the number of jobs in construction in Modesto's metropolitan statistical area will decline by 5.8 percent and financial jobs by 2.8 percent, according to the center forecast. Jobs in education and health services will gain 3.6 percent and professional and business services will rise 1.9 percent this year. Overall employment in Modesto will increase by 0.2 percent. The forecast notes that Modesto's region will see less of a drop in jobs in 2008, partly because the economy in and around the city began slowing down two years ago. According to the center, the local and state economy will begin to recover in 2009.
Walking away from homes and letting them slip into foreclosure is the wrong answer for distressed borrowers. A foreclosure prevention seminar in Modesto on March 29 will give homeowners the opportunity to try to modify troublesome home loans.