Lake Tahoe’s jobless rate hits 16.8 percent for February on CA side |

Lake Tahoe’s jobless rate hits 16.8 percent for February on CA side

Matt WelchSierra Sun

LAKE TAHOE andamp;#8212; To Thomas Jones, it’s clear jobs are leaving Tahoe. andamp;#8220;At our company, (I’ve seen) a significant drop off in business,andamp;#8221; said Jones, who works for ATandamp;T on the North Shore. And the numbers show a drop off in jobs all around the Basin, too.Figures for February indicate that 4,000 workers were unemployed on the California side alone andamp;#8212; 16.8 percent of the labor force. Tahoe-only data for Nevada in February is not available, but Douglas County reported 15 percent unemployment and Washoe County reported 13.4 percent unemployment, according to the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.The figures for both states are much higher than the national average of 9.7 percent.Jered McDonald, an economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, said Nevada doesn’t break down its unemployment data beyond the county level, but Washoe and Douglas counties both lost jobs because of decreasing construction in the area and new casinos on Native American reservations in California.andamp;#8220;This area got a little too high during the housing bubble, so we had farther to fall,andamp;#8221; McDonald said.Layoffs in the leisure and hospitality industries contributed significantly to the drops, McDonald said, especially in Tahoe and Reno. And McDonald didn’t expect an improvement soon.andamp;#8220;We’re going to see an extended period of stagnation,andamp;#8221; he said. andamp;#8220;It’s hard to see where we’re going to get that influx of new jobs without construction picking up the slack.andamp;#8221;Diane Patterson, a labor market analyst for the California Employment Development Department who looks at a number of counties including Placer and El Dorado, said employment changes in smaller areas affect the numbers in a larger way. She also said that areas that rely on seasonal jobs like Tahoe does can see higher unemployment numbers during the shoulder season.andamp;#8220;The Tahoe region has still not seen the effects of the end of the ski season,andamp;#8221; she said.Jones said he thought California’s high taxes and bureaucracy made it harder to hire workers in the area, even in Nevada, which he saw as andamp;#8220;closely tied with California.andamp;#8221; Taxes and obligations for companies can create more barriers to growing business, he said.andamp;#8220;And the health care’s just going to make things ten times worse,andamp;#8221; Jones said.Marilyn Shaff of Kings Beach, who is employed, said she hasn’t run into a lot of out-of-work individuals in the area andamp;#8212; but she has seen people leave because of lack of jobs.andamp;#8220;I think a lot of people who were unemployed left the area when the recession hit,andamp;#8221; Shaff said.Jeff Coyle, program manager at Golden Sierra Job Training, runs several one-stop connection centers to help individuals in Placer and El Dorado Counties hone their skills in order to find new occupations. Coyle works with offices in Roseville and Auburn and said that unemployment in the Sacramento metro area, which can feed the Roseville office, is affecting the basin because those out-of-work individuals aren’t vacationing in Tahoe.andamp;#8220;You’ve got unemployment in the areas that feed the Tahoe basin,andamp;#8221; Coyle said.Five percent of college-educated workers nationally are unemployed, Coyle said, so the higher numbers come from individuals who only have a high school degree or less.andamp;#8220;Those are usually the first to go,andamp;#8221; he said.Cynthia Wallington, program manager for the El Dorado County Department of Human Services, said she’s seen a jump in requests for food stamps, job assistance and welfare applications in the county. In the Tahoe area, Wallington said she usually sees seasonal fluctuations in timing for when people need human services andamp;#8212; but these days, traffic is constant at all the centers.andamp;#8220;We haven’t seen any signs of it slowing down yet,andamp;#8221; she said. andamp;#8220;Really, those numbers are continuing to climb. It’s not reducing yet.andamp;#8221;

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