Watsonville hit hard with high unemployment

June 12, 2009 6:47:45 PM PDT
A new report is revealing just how hard some parts of the Bay Area have been hit by rising unemployment.

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In the past three years, California's unemployment rate has skyrocketed, from five percent in April 2006, to 11 percent this past April and today, more than two millions Californians are out of work.

Now, according to an analysis by the Sacramento Bee, the Bay Area had four of the top 10 toughest job markets in the state. East Palo Alto came in at number 10, San Pablo is number 8, Salinas number 4 and topping the list is Watsonville with a 24 percent unemployment rate.

Watsonville is a futile land and a place where things grow. Strawberries, lettuce, flowers -- but in this economy not jobs.

"I know that it is really affecting Watsonville. It is really depressing," said Watsonville teacher Alejandra Gutierrez.

In Santa Cruz County, the unemployment rate is about 12 percent, but in Watsonville the number is more than twice that high; one out of every four people is out of work.

Santos has worked as a landscaper for six years. He's been without a job for two months.

Elizabeth Anaya is another parent anxious to find work to support her little girl.

"It's been really hard. I applied in a lot of places, different stores different variety of places but no one calls me back," said Anaya.

Main Street shows the signs of economic distress. Big retailers are going out of business, and restaurant owner Carlos Flores struggling to stay in business. People without jobs don't spend money and Carlos can't sleep.

"I just start thinking you know all the payments, payments don't wait you know," said Flores.

Watsonville has been through difficult times before and 2009 can now be counted with other disasters.

"We have gone through Loma Prieta, we have gone through the floods, and now the economics," said Watsonville Mayor Antonio Rivas.

Part of the pain is not knowing when the jobs will return.

"To be honest with you, I don't think it is going to get better anytime soon," said unemployed resident Teresa Donoso.

In a land where crops are plentiful, the people are hungry for any signs of a recovery.

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