After recession, fewer government works on payrolls in Fresno

For years, local governments have been a key source of stable, high-paying jobs in the central San Joaquin Valley. But that makes the region especially vulnerable as the recession hits public agencies hard, experts say.

Declining sales and property tax revenues have forced governments to shed workers. That hurts not just government employees and those who use public services, but the Valley's economy as a whole.

Cities, counties, school districts and other agencies in Fresno, Kings, Madera, Merced and Tulare counties employed about 105,700 people in May -- down about 4,100, or 3.7%, from two years ago. That compares to declines of 2.9% statewide and 1% nationally.

And agencies still are cutting. The start of a new fiscal year on July 1 brought more layoffs.

The result: fewer people to fill potholes, treat sewage, drive buses, process paperwork, teach, maintain parks, serve the poor and mentally ill, fight fires and patrol streets. And those workers now have a lot less money to spend.

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