Commentary: Slow economic recovery isn't helping California's Valley

The nation's dismal unemployment news on Friday was another indication that the economic recovery has slowed, and that means the financial misery is continuing for far too many Americans.

The national jobless rate hit 9.1% in May, as the Labor Department reported only 54,000 jobs were added to the economy in the month. Unfortunately, we shed even more jobs, and that is not a good economic indicator.

But as bad as the national unemployment rate is, we'd take it here in the San Joaquin Valley, a region where double-digit unemployment is the norm. The Valley's jobless rate is almost twice the national average. In Fresno County, it's at 18% and in some rural communities, it's many times worse.

Valley leaders talk a lot about job creation, but their efforts have not had the kind of results needed in this economic environment. Much of it is out of their control because many businesses are contracting instead of hiring.

The recession has been a crushing blow to the region, especially because of the lack of diversity in our economy. While agriculture is doing much better, the other key industry has been housing. That segment is so overbuilt, that it will take years to return to normal. When housing was booming, thousands of well-paying Valley jobs were tied to it. They disappeared as the industry collapsed.

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