Hundreds gathered outside Congressman Jeff Denham's Fresno Office protesting the lack of jobs. Typically in the Valley’s summer months we see a drop in unemployment due to seasonal jobs but unemployment is rising to uncharted waters. The latest numbers show unemployment in Fresno rose 0.8%.
It’s a noisy scene from the road and parking lot as hundreds gathered to protest in front of Republican Congressman Jeff Denham’s office. From the parking lot they chanted “let us in, let us in” as the stared up at Denham’s 2nd floor office. “We want jobs, we want jobs” was the cry from the restless protestors; they cried out for job creation asking for work so they could pay their bills. A woman shouted from the crowd, “Unemployment doesn't pay enough, let alone leave money left over to pay the rent and eat.”
Chronic unemployment or long-term unemployment is at its highest since the Great Depression and numbers show the unemployed are searching longer and harder than ever before calling it quits. As of June, 6.3 million Americans were out of work for at least 27 weeks; those numbers do not include Americans who dropped out of the labor market. The average American is spending 20 weeks searching for a new job.
In Fresno, the unemployment rate is up from 16% in May to 16.8% in June. “We are fighting for jobs, Republicans in the House continue to put in bill after bill after bill,” says Denham. He was not at his Fresno office during the protest; he was across town at the VA hospital’s ground breaking ceremony. He says Republicans are working on nine job creation bills. Each one focuses on helping new and existing businesses grow by cutting burdensome regulations and revamping the tax code.
People don’t want to wait for a vote to create jobs; they want jobs now. “What do we want? Jobs! When do we want them? Now!” the crowd chanted.
New reports show the unemployed are searching longer and harder than ever before. The average American has been job searching for 20 weeks that’s up from 8.5 prior to the recession. Statistics show the longer you are out of work, the less likely it is you will get another job. Only 8.7% of Americans unemployed for at least 53 weeks got work.
Cynthia Holley lives in Fresno; she’s been out of work 6 months. She says she’s been networking, applying online and interviewing; she’s one of hundreds standing in line hoping for work. “They can't say we are lazy and don't want to do anything I want to work we just need jobs here so we can work.” Leland Ferguson is also from Fresno he’s been out of work a year and a half. He came dressed for success. “I wore my suit because I am ready to work. I'm ready to go to work today, right now.” While some are still determined to find work, others are losing hope. It’s funny, I thought it would build character but it's the assassination of character. I feel rejected and how many times can a person get rejected.”
The Fresno labor market projects more bad news for Fresno. It expects unemployment to rise in August after more state cut backs. It adds, the rise in local unemployment is due in part to bad weather for farmers, college students looking for summer employment and retirees heading back to work.
Christina Lusby reporting.