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New unemployment figures -- good news or same old jazz?

New unemployment figures -- good news or same old jazz?

Posted By Sunny Lockwood

Good news, the unemployment rate in Calaveras County has dipped a little.

Since last October, when the county had 14.8 percent unemployment, the number of jobless in our midst has been rising.

But February showed a dip in the numbers. January’s 16.4 percent unemployment has shrunk to a mere 16.1 percent for February.

Of course, all those construction workers and retail workers and laid-off school employees whose jobless benefits have run out are no longer counted in the jobless numbers….so who knows for sure.

All I know is that our Gold Rush county with its abundance of natural beauty and stunning wildlife is chock-full of desperate poverty.

The county food bank and its various food pantries are trying to feed more and more hungry people every month.

Businesses are failing. People who used to teach school are cleaning houses to make money. General contractors are doing handyman work. Even our doctor and dentist have reduced their workweeks.

We only have one incorporated city in Calaveras County. It’s Angels Camp and its latest unemployment numbers were 18.6 percent.

Other communities in the county have even higher rates of unemployment: Mountain Ranch has an unemployment rate of 28.5 percent, Forest Meadows (a gated community) has 19.3 percent unemployment, San Andreas (the county seat) has an unemployment rate of 25.5 percent. Valley Springs, a bedroom community on the eastern edge of the county has an unemployment rate of 18.7 percent.

Yet every day the price of gasoline goes up. Today it cost me $4.07 a gallon for regular. Yesterday it was $3.99.

When the experts come on the evening news, sitting there in their business suits, with their ties straight and their hair neatly trimmed, and begin explaining how the Great Recession is over and the job market is improving…I turn off the TV. I just can’t stomach it anymore. Reality is so much more real and painful than televised reassurances beamed from NY or LA.

Read more of my work at sunnylockwood.com

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