As the Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, the San Joaquin Valley is poised to benefit from more than 100,000 job openings in five key industries over the next six years.
In Fresno County, the job market has been marked in the early and middle stages of 2018 by the opening of two major retail distribution centers. Ulta Beauty has its new 670,000-square-foot warehouse at the south end of Fresno with a workforce of about 540 workers that can expand up to 1,000 jobs during peak seasons. Less than a half-mile away, retail giant Amazon opened its 855-000-square-foot e-commerce order-filling center in June with plans to hire about 1,500 employees.
Now, the latest projections by the state Employment Development Department predict that more than 47,600 job openings are expected to arise between 2014 and 2024 in the region in health care and social assistance — a broad sector that includes high-paying occupations in the medical field as well as an abundance of relatively low-paying jobs as home-health and home-care aides.
The state’s annual Labor Day forecast for the Valley region covers from San Joaquin County in the north to Kern County in the south, as well as sparsely populated Mono and Inyo counties on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada.
More than 51,000 additional jobs are forecast in two other major industry sectors dominated by low-wage work:
- About 28,500 jobs in accommodation and food services, which encompasses jobs ranging from hotel clerks and housekeepers to restaurant and food service workers including chefs, waiters, busboys, and fast-food cooks and cashiers.
- About 23,400 jobs in agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, a field that includes workers on farms and ranches that are the economic engine for the region.
The construction industry, which absorbed huge job losses in the 2007-09 recession and has yet to rebound to pre-recession employment levels of the mid-2000s, is expected to gain 20,170 jobs by 2024. And private-sector educational services, which include schools and colleges outside of the public schools districts, community colleges and state universities, are on pace to add 17,400 jobs by 2024 in the region.
Those same five sectors also represent the largest crop of current job openings in the 10-county region, according to The Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online database for July 2018:
- Educational services, 1,095 jobs.
- Health care and social assistance, 728 jobs
- Accommodation and food services, 171 jobs.
- Construction, 80 jobs.
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, 66 jobs.
In Fresno County, 422,500 people were working in July, second only to May 2018 for the greatest number of employed in the county’s history. The county’s official unemployment rate was 7.2 percent, only four-tenths of a percentage point off the lowest jobless rates since 2006, before the economic recession. July was the 82nd consecutive month of year-over-year improvement in Fresno County’s unemployment rate.