• WEATHER ALERT Winter Weather Advisory

Highest unemployment rate hits Solano

April 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
There is a dramatic rise in the number of people without jobs in California currently. The March unemployment rate climbed to 6.2 percent, up from just 5 percent a year ago. The unemployment rate varies widely across the Bay Area from 4 percent in Marin County to Solano County where the rate soared to 6.4 percent. We look into why more people in Solano County are looking for work.

It's bad enough paying $3.72 a gallon for gasoline. It's even worse when you don't have a job. Darryl Shuemake of Vallejo has been looking for a while.

"Like I say, work, I would have to go to another county to find work because I couldn't find it out here," said Shuemake.

He's talking about Solano County which has the highest jobless rate in the East Bay. In March of last year, unemployment was at five percent. Last month it shot up more than a full point to nearly 6.5 percent.

Jesus Bojorquez still owes money on the truck he bought for his job, painting houses in Solano County. He says business has dried up.

"Some times I work on some houses and people call me, 'Hey, I need you to paint a door or the kitchen,' but for now, I got nothing over there because the people don't call for anything," said Bojorquez.

And that's a perfect example of what's happening in parts of the East Bay where new home construction had been booming, until the sub prime mortgage crisis changed all that.

"Now the East was reliant on construction for jobs. We see construction fall off. That's going to lead to more unemployment there," said Thomas Davidoff, an assistant professor at U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

He says the rising unemployment in the East Bay is one of the ripple effects of the worsening economy and it could get more severe.

"So decreasing home prices, increasing unemployment leads to more mortgage defaults. That pushes home prices further down. That makes everybody feeling less wealthy and we get the whole cycle again," said Davidoff.

With unemployment offices dealing with a crush of people looking for help, the state says it could take longer for unemployment checks to arrive.

For now, Jesus Bojorquez, the house painter from the East bay, is living off his savings.

"My phone is not ringing for anything, not for a room, not for a cealing or for something for repair. Nothing in the last seven months," said Bojorquez.

There were some bright spots in the report. Solano County did pick up 600 jobs in leisure and hospital services. There was a gain of 200 in government jobs. Statewide jobs in the information field did show gains along with education and health services.

Load Comments