Bruce Lopez, 22, says he can't remember how many job applications he has filled out over the past few years -- for restaurants, retail stores, fast food, whatever was available to someone who hadn't finished high school.
"I did all the Tower District, all of River Park, all down Blackstone. I was looking for anything," he said. "But nobody got back to me."
That is, until he decided to return to the books and get his diploma. Through an education program at the Fresno Regional Workforce Investment Board, Lopez recently earned his GED and found work as a cashier at T.J. Maxx.
Lopez's job hunt underscores the difficulty of landing employment without a high school education. It's something that's always been tough. But it's gotten tougher since the recession.
Unemployment among Fresno County residents without high school diplomas, according to U.S. Census figures released last week, jumped nearly 8 percentage points since the economy slipped in 2007, hitting 19.5% last year. That compares to a 4 percentage-point jump in unemployment among college graduates, who were unemployed at a rate of 6.1% last year.
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