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Many Fresno jobs are ripe for growth on this Labor Day. But what will they pay?

There are going to be plenty of jobs opening up in the Valley over the next few years. That’s the good news on this Labor Day.

However, the occupations that will offer the largest number of jobs are those that require the least education – and offer some of the lowest wages, according to data from the state Employment Development Department.

Between now and 2026, the state estimates there will be an average of almost 5,500 job openings each year in Fresno County for farm workers and laborers for crop, nursery and greenhouse production. The average rate of pay as of early 2019 was $11.53 per hour.

Most of those future openings will be the result of “transfers” — people leaving that occupation for work in another occupation or industry.

Jobs as personal care aides, which typically require a high school education and no prior work experience, are expected to be the second most numerous openings in Fresno County. In early 2019, such jobs offered a median hourly wage of $11.98 per hour. The state Employment Development Department estimates there will be an average of just under 3,600 openings each year through 2026.

Not only are personal care aides the field with the highest number of anticipated job openings, it’s also among the occupations with the greatest percentage change in employment from current levels – a 38% increase for the decade from 2016 to 2026. There were about 17,520 people working in that job in 2016; that’s expected to rise to more than 24,000 in 2026.

Other occupations with some of the greatest percentage growth, however, are starting from a much smaller baseline of current employment. The highest percentage of growth is forecast among physical therapist assistance, where an increase from 70 people in 2016 to 100 in 2026 represents a 42.9 percent increase, but is a numerical change of only 30 positions.

From accountants and advertising sales people to welders and woodworkers, the state agency’s assessment includes more than 430 distinct occupations that combined represent a potential of almost 56,000 job openings a year on average over the next seven years.

Of those, more than 27,000 were in occupations for which the median average annual wage in 2018 was less than $30,000 a year. The median wage is the level at which half of the jobs pay more and half pay less.

The warehousing industry, which has seen significant growth in Fresno over the past couple of years with the opening of large distribution and order-filling centers by cosmetics retailer Ulta Beauty and online retail giant Amazon, could also represent a significant number of new jobs in such occupations as shipping/receiving clerks, stock clerks/order fillers, and packers and packagers.

Those occupations – which aren’t limited to just the big warehouses but may include stockroom workers at local stores and businesses – are forecast by the EDD to provide a combined average of more than 1,400 jobs per year through 2026. The median pay for those jobs early this year, after Amazon and Ulta opened, ranged between $12.31 and $15.69 per hour.

California’s minimum wage for companies with more than 25 employees rose from $11 per hour in 2018 to $12 per hour in 2019. It will increase again on Jan. 1, 2020, to $13 per hour.

Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.
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